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VttarfMira Jov'' Pat>lio L.ll>ravp 
Ck>Tt* ut We*t Bcu^aJ 




CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 

History of poople and localities from 1690 to 1857 


By Reverend Father Jambs Long 


Edited with an introduction and bio-bibliographical notes 
by Sankar Sen Gupta 



CALCUTTA 

INDIAN PUBLICATIONS 
1974 



First June, 1974 


This print Indian Publications, Calcutta 

Published by C. R. Sen Gupta on behalf of Indian 
Publications, 3, British Indian Street, Calcutta- 1 
and Printed by Sri Gajendra Nath Choudhury of 
Printer’s Corner Pvt. Ltd., No. 1, Gangadhar Babu 
Lane, Calcutta- 12 

Cover : Bholanath Bhattacharya 

Price Rs. 32 or $ 7*50 



CONTENTS 


Introdwlion by the editor, i — L.ii 

1. The Banks of the Bhagirathi, 1 — 65 

2. Calcutta in the olden time — its people, 66 — 152 

3. Calcutta in the olden time— its localities, 153 — 215 
Aeknowledoements, . 216 



Dedicated to Shri Shalilkumar Ghosh (P^dtnashree) 
Bombay and to Shri Subhashcbandra Sarker 
Dy. Editor “Commerce”, Bombay as a 
token of respect and admiration 
for their love for Calcutta. 



Introduction by the editor 

Sankar Sen Gupta 

This is a collection of three papers of Reverend James 
Long which he contributed more than a century ago in 
*^GalcuUa Revietv'^^ and are now rare. In these papers there 
are such information which arc interesting in knowing 
Old Calcutta, her people, her development and growth. 

We could serve the purpose better, if we include, 
according to our original plan, three more papers of 
Reverend James Long and two papers of J. C. Marshman 
in the appendix. We wanted to incorporate Long’s 
(i) ‘‘Grand Trunk Road, its localities’*, Calcutta Review^ 
v 21, n 41 •, (ii) Peeps into the Social Life of Calcutta a Century 
agoy a pamphlet, 1868 and (iii) Calcutta and Bombay in 
their social aspect^ a pamphlet, 1870 together with J. C. 
Marshman’s (i) “Notes on Calcutta in the Olden Times”, 
Calcutta Review i v 18 & 25, and (ii) “Notes on Calcutta : 
Bank of Hughly”, Calcutta Review^ v 3, n 6 & 8. But 
these are missing from the present work* This is the result 
of an adjustment with time and desicion of a second 
thought. We have also missed a Bengali poem composed 
by Rupchand Pakshi,^ a native bard, in the appendix, 
for the same reason as stated above* 

We are forced to cut our plan to size owing to 
scarcity of papers, continued power crisis and sudden 

1. The Banks of the Bhagiratbi, Caloutta, I860, (ii) **Calouttain 
the olden time — its people/’ Calcutta RtvUw , Sept.— December, 1S60 and 
(iii) **Calcutta in the olden time-- its localities/’ Calcutta Review ^ July — 
December, 1852. 

2. Kupohand Das Mahapatra, the son of GaurharidaS Mahapatra, 
migrated to Calcutta from Orissa, tie was born on 1221 B.S. and was 
a student of Hare School, a pupil of Rev. K. M, Bandyopadhyaya. 
He was adept in composing poems and music and in course of time he 
organised a party which was popularly known as 'Pakshir Dal* or the 
association of birds. He was a genius of nineteenth century who kept 
busy many extravagants^ and evil-doers of his tune with his pun and 
satire. Hid **Kalik&ta Barnan** ( The Description of Calcutta ) is a 
masterpiece which appeared in the book SangeetRasa-Kallolt 

—A 



ii OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUEHOOD 

rise in production cost. Keeping in tune with the time in 
mind we have decided to bring out the book in the form 
it has now been published. Thus the title of the book 
may appear to some little ambitious for which the editor 
seeks the indulgence of readers because the responsibility 
of the title of the present book is his. 

Of course, the title is not without reason. In the 
papers of the present book many pieces of information 
about Calcutta, its neighbourhood and the people arc 
available. A few points and expected items of some 
neighbouring places like Howrah, are left out from this 
study. Particularly, in a book that concerns to Calcutta 
and the places close to it, one reasonably expects some 
discussion about the people and localities situated on the 
banks of the Hooghly. But these are wanting here. 

Even though what have been said here about different 
places and people of the bank of the Bhagirathi, in addi- 
tion to ‘‘Calcutta in the olden time — its localities,*’ and 
“its people” are of great significance. Here the author had 
touched many such things with minute details which sons 
of the soil generally neglect for obvious reason. The des- 
cription here serves the purpose of more than a map and 
0/ reading this even a foreigner can penetrate with the 
natives. This help us to know Calcutta, Calcuttans, and 
such people and places close to it which are found 
around the Bhagirathi. Therefore, the title of the book 
is justified. 

2 

Calcutta — Past and Present 

In 1822 Iswarchandra Gupta wrote “Pestered by the 
fly whole day, and plagued by the mosquito at night, 
such is the Calcutta citizen’s plight.’’* This condition, 
in relation to fly and mosquito at least, has not changed 

3 , CW5 vn ftta JItff. 

4^ «T5C1 wvsts ! 



INTRUDaOTION BY THE EDITOR 


iii 


very much even after the lapse of a century and a half, 
Macaulay said that one lives in a constant vapour bath 
in Calcutta. We Galciittans, in 1974, cannot say that 
this is much exaggerated considering the present power 
cut. Even though the city has been eminently blessed 
with unstinted love from her sons and daughters. 

Calcutta is the nerve-centre of Bengal, if not India 
as a whole. In the process of general development of 
India Calcutta and its people have significant role. 

Calcuttans love Calcutta not for its palaces and build- 
ings or because it is the first and foremost city in India. 
He loves Calcutta, and that is that. Nothing strange in 
it. It is said that everybody who passes three nights 
here falls in love with Calcutta. But why V Is it because 
during this period he will discover the contrast between 
the different parts of the city ? He will, during his stay, 
find in the natural way different communities in diffe- 
rent areas who have their own ideas and way of life and 
have different domestic architecture. As for example, 
the middle class Hindus of Bagbazar and Shambazar 
prefer houses with courtyards which separate the outer 
room meant for menfolk from the inner where it is a shame 
for a man to be seen in day time. The Marwaris of Burra- 
bazar, the Anglo-Indians and Musalmans of Wellesley- 
Ripon Street, the Bangals of Ballygunge-Dhakuria- Jadav- 
pur, all have their preferences for house-types and designs. 
The classical style was the favourite one when the public 
buildings of the Company's regime were built. But the 
the Classicists did not yield place easily so the Senate 
Hall of the University of Calcutta was demolished. 

Besides, there are other variety. Here one can have 
genuine Chinese delicacies from China Town, dishes 
from menu cards printed in French from Chowringhcc, 
idle dosei from South Calcutta, the little Dravidasthan 
north of the Vindhyas,* and any other dishes in Dalhousi- 

4. By oourtety of All India Kadio. Calcutta Centre. Asim Kumar 
bcoadoast* is Caloutta!' on Marob^ 1960, 



iv 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


EsplanadC'Park Street hotels and restaurants. There are 
numerous wine bars^ cabaret on the one side, and foot-path 
restaurant, Fuakawatla etc. the other, and what not. The 
person who will not like these or the hurry and bustle 
of the Dalhousic Square or the jingle of money in the 
Stock Exchange, may come along to College Square — 
there are intellectuals in the Coffee House who with a 
cup of plain coffee go on chatting with world’s problems. 

If these suit not one, he may drive to river-side for 
a different experience. If one lost his faith in the 
present generation, for him also there is a place in 
Calcutta. He can pass his days with the dead in the 
archaeological museum and can also widen his knowledge 
about man seeing anthropological museum. If one is 
fond of reading, for him, there is National Library and 
other institutions. Being disgusted with those one can 
switch off his affection to the inmates of zoo. For a further 
avenue, he can go to Botanical Gardens at Shibpur, 
and can also join in boating. A religious minded one 
can visit Buddha-Jaina temples, can also visit Kalighat 
temple or Sikh Gurudwara or in a Church or a Maszid 
according to his taste. 

If one prefers stage or screen, Calcutta will not dis- 
appoint him also. There are the professional theatres,- 
amateur theatres, cinema-halls and others. There is a 
Planatorium, there is Rabindra Sadan, there is Academy 
of Fine Arts, there is Birla Institute of Arts, and different 
cultural soircs. There is Birla Technological Museum, 
and ^thcr centres of occasional visit for knowledge^ 
Then there are three universities and students agitation 
and inquilab'ioallaa, dhanna-wallaa^ processions, demonstra- 
tions, political meetings, seminars, conferences, elections, 
and what not ] 

Again, there are harwari pujaa, majlia^ and others which 
provide plenty of fire works. The fire works! arc present 
in any jovial gathering or festival— 4>e it religious or 
secular. Then there are East Bengal, MohunBagan,. 



INTRODUCTION BT THE EDITOR 


V 


Cricket Board, IFA and others where fifty thousand people 
on an average flock to Maidan every afternoon. About 
six lakhs of people come and go daily from Calcutta who 
too are Calcuttans in the restricted sense. These people 
by joining their hands with the citizens can manage for 
an extra holiday by offering anti-this or anti-that day. 
There are also extravagant persons with plenty of resour- 
ces, there are call-girls, rigid conservatives, prostitutes, 
film-stars, refugees, old-settlers and new-comers — there 
are multimillionaires and street beggars. For all these 
Calcutta is an extremely friendly place. It is a micro 
cosm of the world. It retains its essential unity of 
character behind all diversity. For all these Calcuttans 
love Calcutta. 

II 

To-day this Calcutta is faced with many handicap. , 
and to overcome these Calcuttans will have to uproot 
many things which have far-reaching implications. It 
is here we must take the progressive and a far-sighted 
view. If the outlook of the Calcuttans for better and 
healthier way of living and a dynamic urge for environ- 
mental hygiene is not created, we will not be able to make 
our Calcutta beautiful. Mere routine work or lying the 
foundation of a socio-economic programme will not help 
us much if the basic factors in human relation and 
co-ordinated endeavour to better living arc not fostered. 

Calcutta has all the symptoms that are great in other 
cities and in other countries. Its palacial buildings and 
glamours, its glory and greatness, its wealth and grandeur 
are well-known. Along with these, there arc worst filth 
and squalor, acute poverty and unemployment, hunger 
and disease, complete chaos in absence of order and 
discipline, the gloom, untidy and unhappy state of affairs 
along with power crisis, high price, hovels and bustees, 
smokes and khatals, market and footpath-shops. All 
these are/ intermixed in such an incongruous manner 
that makes one wonder and suspicious that something 



vi 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 


musi be wrong somewhere. In order to find Qut or dia- 
gonise the disease and to prescribe medicines for remedy 
of the wrong, Calcutta Improvement Trust, Calcutta 
Metropolitan Development Organisation, Calcutta Metro- 
politan District, Calcutta Metropolitan Development 
Authority etc. organisations are established one after 
another after the advent of independence but they too 
have not yet been able to set up things properly. The 
service of the Corporation of Calcutta which was esta- 
blished in 1923 for amenities for the citizens have 
gradually become inadequate. No doubt, Calcutta now 
accommodates many times the population which it was 
intended to cater for, and obviously the arrangements 
which were made for service many years ago have become 
impasse these days. 

Crowding in a city has now become a common feature 
by reason of the amenities which it provides and the 
possibility of securing employment there. A thoughtful 
man possessing initiative and urge to improve the city 
is, therefore, a need. 

Calcutta has grown up as necessity demanded. She 
was never fashioned after a plan. Hence she is so much 
disorderly, so much untidy. The pressure of demand 
has shaped city’s destiny. But it is not an ancient city. 

Of course, the mention of Calcutta is found in 
^Kabikankan Cbandi’ of Mukundaram and ^Manasa 
Mangal’ of Bipradas of the Middle Age, In *Ain-i-Akbari* 
of Ahml Fazal also the word Calcutta is found. But 
these Calcutta is not the same Calcutta which Job 
Charoock, coming to Calcutta in 1690, founded in 1698. 

It is to be remembered that Job Charnock perhaps lan- 
4cd m Calcutta on August 24, 1690 and in 1698 he pur- 
chased the three villages — Suttanutty, Govindpur and 
CalctiUa from Osman, the grand^spn of Emperor Alamgir, 
at a sttixL of Re. 16,000 but the Government of the day 
wg$ paid a sum of Rs. 13,000 only as recorded. It is 
$hli9 iuppowd that a sum of 3,000 was therefore 



IHtBODUOTION BY THE EBlTOB vil 

paid to a middle«inan. The area of these three villages 
were three miles in length and one mile in breadth. It 
had a yearly tax of Rs. 1,282.60 only. 

At present the municipal area of Calcutta is 23,629 
acres or 36'92 sq. miles. In 1951 it was 29*48 sq. miles. 
Owing to Tollygunge’s inclusion with the Calcutta Corpo- 
ration the municipal area of Calcutta was increased. 
For this inclusion it was necessary to the amendment of 
the Calcutta Municipal Act of 1951. Even today Canal 
and Fort areas are excluded from the central municipal 
or Calcutta Corporation area. The following is the 
present area of the Corporation of Calcutta : 


Calcutta up to 1951 ... 18,868 acres or 29*48 sq. miles 

After the Amendment 


Add Tollygunge 

4,761 

acres or 

7*44 sq. miles 

Total ... 

23,629 


or 

36*92 sq. miles 

Add Canal area 

278 

>> 

or 

*43 sq. miles 

Add Fort area 

551 

5) 

or 

‘86 sq. miles 

Total 

24,458 


or 

38*21 sq. miles 


It is interesting to note that in 1701, the estimated 
area of Calcutta was about 1700 acres and the population 
about 10,000. The area was much increased by 1717 when 
the English were permitted by the Emperor Farrukhshiyar 
to purchase thirty-eight villages close to Calcutta. This 
purchase is responsible to the making of the Calcutta 
as we know it today. The name of these villages, it 
should not be forgotten, still very much survive -in the 
name of diSerent streets and localities. As for example, 
Sinthi, Gossipur, Chitpur, Paikpara, Belgatchya, Bagtnari, 
Narikeldanga, Kankoorgatchi Beliaghata, Pagladanga, 
Gobra, Topsia, Beniapookur, Tiljala, Bejtala, Monohar* 
pukur, Ghooghoodanga, Sabanagar etc. 6y 1801, tlfe- 
atea of Calcutta came to 5000 acres, with a population' 
of 1,40,000. A hundred year later, itt 1901, the popula^'^ 



viii 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


tion had swollen to 10 lakhs. In 1951, the acreage was 
18|868 and population 25 lakhs and in 1971, the acreage 
was 23,629 and the population of 31,41,180 according 
to 1971 census. 


Ill 

The Etymology of Calcutta 

Calcutta or Kalihdta is a name of uncertain etymology. 
The first mention that we are aware of occurs in Kahi- 
kankanchandi of Mukundaram and Manasa Mangal of 
Bipradas of the Middle Age and then in the Ain-i~Akbari 
of Abul Fazal which have already been stated. It is 
well to note that in some early charts, suCh as that in 
Valentijin, and the oldest in English Pilot, though Cal- 
cutta is not entered, there is a place on the Hoogly 
Galcula, or Oalcuta, which leads to mistake. It is far 
below, near the modern Fulta. Sir H. Yule and A. C. 
Burnell in their ^^Hobson-Jabson'’ inform that in Hedges^ 
Diary^ Hak. Soc. u. xcvi : **ln Orme’s Historical Fragments, 
Job Charnock is described as ‘Governor of the Factory 
at Golgot near Hughley\ This name Golgot and the 
corresponding Golghat in an extract from Muhabhat 
Khan indicate the name of the particular locality where 
the English Factory at Hugli was situated. And some 
confusion of this name with that of Calcutta may have 
led to the curious error of the Frenchman Luiller and 
Sonnerat, the former of whom calls Calcutta Golgouthc, 
while the latter says : ‘Les Anglais prononcent etecrivent 
Golgota’« Job Charnock, in 1698, “obtained his permis- 
sion to^urchase from the Zemindar the towns of 

Sootanutty, Calcutta and Goomopore, with their districts 
extending about 3 miles along with the eastern bank of 
the river’’. A. Hamilton writes : “The Company has a 
pretty good Hospital at Calcutta, where many go in to 
ut^ergo the Penance of Physic^ but few come out to 

give an account of its Operation One Year I was 

Ihejref and there were reckoned in August about 1200 



INTEODUOTION BY THE BDITOK ix 

English, some Military, some servants to the Company, 
some private Merchants residing in the Town and some 
Seamen belong to Shipping lying at the Town, and 
before the beginning of January there were 460 Burials 
registered in Clerk’s Books of Mortality’’. A. Karim Khan, 
in Elliot, VII, 127, writes : “I had occasion to stop at the 
city of Firashdanga (Chandernagore) which is inhabited 
by a tribe of Frenchmen. The city of Calcutta, which 
is on the other side of water, and inhabited by a tribe 
of English who have settled there, is much more exten- 
sive and thickly populated.” The present area of Calcutta 
is very various. That is to say, that the Calcutta of the 
census people is not the Calcutta of everyone. And for the 
matter of that, Calcutta’s boundary differs from person 
to person. As for example, “The lawyer in the High 
Court knows city as circumscribed by the Letters Patent 
of 1774, and that today is only a third of what the 
Mayor knows to be his city. The Commissioner of 
Police takes a slightly more up-to-date view than the 
lawyer does, but he disclaims responsibility for quite a 
number of localitities that worry the Mayor. The area 
for which you can draw the special Calcutta allowance 
of the Central Government probably does not corres- 
pond with any of them. And the statistician draws his 
boundaries where he likes in order to make his figures 
fit his theories. The fact remains, whichever way you 
look at it, Calcutta is big, and what is far more impor* 
tant, it is great.”^ 

Here one may be interested in the etymology of the 
name Calcutta. Different scholars have different views 
about this. Reverend Long in his paper titled : “Calcutta 
in the olden time — its localities,’' in Fp 155-56, said 
that “in Europe various cities received their names from 
the circumstances of monasteries and castles having first 
erected on a spot which formed the meleus of a town--* 


6. ibid. 



t 


OALOtTTTA AND ITS NBIGfiBOUtlttOOD 


why may not the name Calcutta be a corruption of 
Kalighat ?’* But Dr. Sunitikumar Chatterjec thinks the 
name Calcutta is derived from Kalichun^ He says that there 
was a time when fisher-folk of the area used to produce 
quick lime homjhinuk or oyster-shell and shamuk or shell 
of snail. This lime is called Kalichun in Bengali. It was 
produced in plenty then, and was stored like heap or 
mound in different parts of Calcutta. From the Kata 
or heap of Kalichun or quick lime the name Calcutta is 
derived. There are some places in the neighbourhood of 
Calcutta which have got their names as Kalikata from 
KaU-chun, This we know from a recent controversy about 
the etymology Calcutta. 


IV 

Calcutta of the present day is a queer admixture of good 
and evil of beauty and ugliness. There are in Calcutta 
the narrow and pitch-dark bye-lanes like Amratala and 
long stretching and spacious boulevards like Southern 
Avenue. Here darkness and light, beauty and ugliness 
go together. Many of the big cities of the world do not 
have those special features that are in Calcutta. 

The outlook of the Galcuttans 

The outlook of the Calcuttans of the day has greatly 
changed. Now Calcuttans look for living a new life with 
newer ideals. Many of them are keen to make the city 
tidy, beautiful and charming. For doing so, the citizens 
shall be pleased to cultivate an aesthetic outlook befitting 
time.^ Materials of beauty are scattered all over. Natural 
loveliness may be found in every nook and corner. All 
that one need is an aesthetic bent of mind of the people 
to place them aright which are wanting here. 

For doing this, if necessary, Calcutta will have to 
fight against odds^the greatest, the most heart-breaking 

6. Ohaiterjee, Suniti Kumar KaHhUa namr bjnapatti, Bangiya 
Sahitya Parishat Patrika. 46, 1, 1845 B. S. 



INTRODUOTIOn BY THB BDITOB Xi 

and demoralising of all is poverty.'^ This poverty is both 
economic and aesthetic. 

Poverty is there. Majority of Galcuttans are living in 
below poverty level. They are growing with poverty. 
Poverty cannot stop population growth in Calcutta. It 
should be noted in this connection that throughout the 
history man sought to control his own fertility. But 
famine, disease and wars decimated his ranks in earlier 
centuries and caused him to regard the birth of many 
children as a necessary investment in his own future. 
Today, that investment has become a liability. 

Excessive population growth find its acute expression 
in the poverty and malnutrition which denies to so many 
human beings the chance of a decent life. Let us bear 
in mind, as a matter of fact, that in 1972, there were 
3,800 million people on earth and the population of the 
world will reach an estimated of 6,500 million by the year 
2000 according to an estimate of UNO even if there is 
a considerable decline in fertility. 

One result of this rate of growth has been a dramatic 
increase in the number of young people. Approximately 
40% of the world population is now under the age of 15, 
and most of them are dependent and unproductive.® For 
these people millions of new jobs will have to be created 
or unemployed youth will add to the already heavy 
burden on the productive members of the society. 
Besides, additional food will have to be produced to feed 
many more hungry mouths, The rate of unemployed 
young people and the hungry mouths in Calcutta are 
getting increased da.y by day. 

Calcuttans are conscious about this problem so compa- 
ring to the other parts of the country their fertility rates 
are getting down. They have an increase of 19. 7% in 

7. Son, Benoy Kumar. Cleaning-up Calcutta, Progressive Publishing 
House, Osloutta 1956. 

Bepbrt ttom United Nations in the World Population Year 



xii 


OALOTJTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOURHOOD 


population for 1961-71 when in Bombay, it 42.9% for 
the corresponding period. But the population growth in 
the neighbourhood of Calcutta is several times more than 
what is in Calcutta. The following is the figure accord- 
ing to 1971 census. 

Population Male Female Deniity Kates of 

pereq. Population 
KM. increase in 
1961—71 

Calcutta 31,41,180 19,17,501 12,23,679 30,497 7.31 

Howrah 24,20,094 13,18,270 11,01,825 1625 18.72 

24Parg. 85,81,743 45,65,777 40,15,966 623 36.63 

Hooghly 28,73,779 15,12,728 13,61,051 913 28.86 

For restricting this growth knowledge of family plann- 
ing is necessary. It is necessary for happiness, prosperity 
and peace and to make the lives beautiful. 

What is a need today is the collective development and 
improvement of the people. There is need for a newlook 
to do things good. Even if it is not possible to beautify 
the whole of Calcutta and its neighbourhood at a time, 
effort may at least be made there to tackle thoroughly 
in part of it with a long term scheme, keeping in mind 
every fundamental factor that comes within the scope of 
environmental hygiene, to make the city congenial for 
growth not only for a few but for all who are, by sheer 
necessity, compelled to live together. After all, amenities 
or environment cannot be restricted, and even if it can, it 
caiWot be congenial for the growth of all. 

In fact, those who are fortunate, if they are enveloped 
with uncongenial surroundings, their growth will be 
hampered. And this is not only true for Calcutta and 
its neighbourhood but also true for other parts of the 
country. So is the importance of Long’s type study, 
because it supplies us our past historjj^ ready at hand. By 
reading these pages we will know what we had in our 
past and how we have come to this position. Thus it is an 
opportunity of paying our homage to Rev. James Long. 



INTBOBUOTION BY THB BDITOB 


xii^ 


V 

Previous writings on James Long 

James Long was a versatile genius. It is unfortunate 
that for this reason or that he had not receive as much^ 
attention of ours as he should. There is no full-length 
biography of his, when there are biographies of persons 
of less talent and who had less sympathy, than Long, for 
the Bengalees. Here we will once again get a chance to 
speak of Long’s love for Calcutta and Calcuttans, his 
versatility, erudition and learned contributions to huma- 
nities, folklorology, sociology and library science. 

While editing “500 Questions on the subjects requir- 
ing investigation in the social condition of the people of 
of India*' in 1966, Mahadeva Prosad Saha and the writer 
of this note placed some facts about Long’s Life. Saha 
also discussed about Long in some other places. Late 
J. C. Bagal in his '*Unahingsha Satabdir Bangla'\ Calcutta,. 
1348 B. S. has given a life-sketch of James Long. Again, 
in 1972, while editing “Nil Durpan or the Indigo Planting 
Mirror” the present writer got an opportunity in saying 
some details about Long. M. P. Saha again, in his 
edited volume — Long’s “Unpublished Records of the 
Government : Relating Mainly to Social Condition of 
Bengal” ( first cdi. 1869 ) Calcutta, 1973 relayed more 
detaits about Long. Previously in another edited work ; 
“Selected Papers : Rev. James Long”, M. P. Saha, in 1965, 
provided certain points on Long. He is considered 
to be an expert on Long in India. In 1974, Pramil 
Chandra Bosu in his article “Padri Long and Long 
Sahehar Catalogue'* in “Unabingsa Sataker Banglar Katha- 
o-Jogcscchandra Bagal” ably discussed Long’s role as a 
pioneer scholar of Library Seience in Bengal. Then again^ 
Ashraf Siddique in an article titled : “Foreigners^ Contri- 
bution to Indian Folklore” in Folklore, Calcutta, March 
1974 discussed Long’s contribution to proverbology. Even 
after the publication of all these piece materials there 



XIV 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOTTBHOOD 


Still remains the need of a full-length biography of Long. 
In order to do our part to that regard we will endeavour 
to provide available materials ready at hand and the 
sources, in one place for the future biographer. M. P. Saha 
has informed us that Long’s letters, journals, reports, 
papers, cover the period from 1842 to 1872 arc preserved 
in Church Missionary Society Office at London. ^‘Let 
us hope some enterprising scholar will someday bring out 
a full-length study of this unique man”.* 

3 


Long, in India, won the heart of the native for his 
love of humanity and service to the suffering community. 
For this quality of his, he sufferred an imprisonment in 
1861 and a fine of a thousand of rupees. But it is curious 
that after 1861, he began to lose his popularity. Why ? 
It is very difficult to reply because Long was an admixture 
of many dull and many many good qualities. 

Before we make an assessment on J. Long, let us 
remember, the educational policy of the British because 
Long had a definite contribution to the spread of India’s 
native education- His allotted field was Thakurpukur. 
After ten years of his coming to India, in 1850, he took 
the charge of Church Missionary Society’s school at 
Mirzapur. He was very actively connected with and 
promoted several important educational and literary 
organisations in India. 

Educational Policy of the British 

It should ^ be remembered that much earlier than 
Long’s arrival in India, School Book Society was esta* 
blished in Calcutta. This was controlled by the British 
Orientalists and administrators along with highly 

9. Sttha, M.P. Ed. Unpuhli$hed Records of Govimminthy J. Long first 
published 18 S9, republished 1973 by Fa K. L, MukhopadbyajrA, ed. 
^th extra notos, glossary etoir 



INTEODUOTION BY THE BDITOB 


XV 


^placed natives. It was established with a view to provide 
books in native language for the native students. This 
is one of the main points for which James Long stood by 
his predecessors like H. T. Prinsep, H. T. Willson and 
others. It is on this point that they differed with T. B. 
Macaulay and others. The defeat of the Orientalists to 
Macaulay is the seeds of ambivalence and the begin* 
nings of Indian nationalism.^® With whatever motive there 
is no denying the fact that Long had a great hand in 
inspiring Bengali intelligentsia for vernacular education. 

On May 6, 1817 in a Special Meeting at the Fort 
William College, the School Book Society was established. 
\ year before, in 1816, there established Hindu College 
in Calcutta and a year later, in 1818, Calcutta School 
Book Society was founded with the effort of the elite of 
Fort William — W. B. Bayley, Hold Mackenzie, W. H. 
Macnaughten, Qcorge Swinton, Thomas Fortesque 
H. T. Prinsep and others. The moto of the Calcutta 
Book Society was to supply lessons and books in the Native 
language to indigenous schools of Calcutta and intellec- 
tual improvement of the natives by diffusion among 
them of usual elementary scientific works proposed for 
the benefit of young men. 

For the translation work a committee was formed 
under the leadership of William B. Bayley. Thomas 
Roebuck, William Carey, Anthony Locket, Mrityunjay 
Vidyalankar, Radhakanta Deb were honoured members, 
and Tarinicharan Mitra, who was then the Chief Munshi 
of Fort William College, in the Urdu Department, was 
designated as Native-Secretary.'^ 

The Society decided that religious books ( whether 
Hindu or Christians ) would be prohibited, although 

10. Kopf, David. British OrUnteUism and ths Btngal Rtnamancit Farma 
K. L. Hukhopadbyaya. Calcutta, 1969* 

11. Das, Sajani Kanto, Bangla GadyasMtyer Itihash^ Mitralaya, 
Calcutta, 1963* 



XVI 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUItHOOD 


works on inculcation of moral duties were permitted*. 
The Society paid for translation of Britistii text-books 
into Indian Languages and sponsored new edition of 
indegenous works as well as some original composition 
in the vernaculars. It was through the publications of 
the Society that Indian students first became acquainted 
with Western science, history and literature. 

II 

James Long, in his time, had a great hand in the 
translation work for a long period from 1850 to 1861. 
His ‘‘Question of Natural History,*^ “Life of Mahammad,” 
“Bengali Etymology” etc. were widely prescribed. Prior 
to Long, in 1818, W. H. Pearce translated a geography 
text into Bengali (Bhugol brittania)^ the book was used in 
Bengali School until 1840’s. A year later J. C. Marshman 
wrote in Bengali Jyotiah-o^goladhyaya ( Astronomy and 
Geography ) for the Society. Felix Carey, son of William 
Carey, published an abridged version of Goldsmith’s 
“History of England.” He also brought out the “Bengali 
Encyclopaedia” vol. I. William Yeat’s brought **Padartha’ 
hidyaaar^* or The Essence of Natural Science in 1824.^* 
This book was popular for decades. 

These books and many others indicate that the Orien- 
talists did not restrict their support to traditional works 
but also made recent western learning available in the 
language of the people.^^ But the then powers did not 
like this. They wanted to produce clerks and sycophant 
for the need of their administration. Thus Lord Macauley 
was sufKmoned for recommending to the Government 
of the day an educational policy, in the line of thought 
of the powers, for their consideration. In doing so, their 
first effort was to stop vernacular education and to intro* 
duce English. This decision was not unanimous. The 
Institutors had to face contrariety not only from u section^ 

\ 2 , pas 6. K. op. oit. IS. Kopf, David, op. oit. 



INTEODT70TION BY THE BOITOB Xvil 

of the natives but also from a portion of the influential 
persons who were their own countrymen. The diflference 
of opinion on this point, between the two groups, wai 
not ephemeral. When this air was blowing then Rev. 
Long came to India and joined Orientalists. In course 
of time he became member of Calcutta Book Society. 
Prior to his becoming a member of the Calcutta Book 
Society, the School Book Society had ceased to exist. It 
functioned well until 1829. 


Ill 

It should be remembered that ^^under Bentinck’s admini* 
stration the Fort William College was dismantled, the 
Asiatic Society experienced grave financial difiiculties, 
the Calcutta Madrasa and Sanskrit College, Calcutta 
came precariously close to extinction, the Calcutta School 
Book Societies were rendered impotent. Serampore 
College anglicised its curriculum after the College Council 
was dissolved by Bentinck in March 1, 1831. It lost its 
attractiveness to Indians.’’*^ It is during this movement, 
the Brahmo Samaj is to begin their long drift to cultural 
nationalism in India. The victory of Anglicist faction 
caused Calcutta intelligentsias submission of petition 
against Macaulay’s Minute which was signed by no less 
than 10,000 people. It is after the submission of this 
petition the actual debate between Orientalists and 
Anglicists, Extremists and Traditionalists — began in the 
educational committee. 

According to Prinsep, the immediate public reaction 
to the Macaulay’s resolution saved Sanskrit College from 
total abolition. Bentinck however, remained unmoved 
in 1835. He supported Macaulay’s Minute, which was 
prepared on the basis of his own resolution. Macaulay 
said Indian vernaculars as *poor and rude’. But he got 

14. ibid. 

16. ibid. 

16. ibid. 

— B 



Xriii OALOXTFTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 

Stormy replies not only from the natives but also from 
his own countrymen. Meanwhile, William j3arey who dedi- 
cated his life to the cultivation of India’s languages, and 
who might have led the struggle against Macaulay had 
died on June 9, 1834. The man who stood in Carey's 
place was Brian Hodgson, Resident in Nepal and Carey's 
student at Fort William. In a scries of letters to ‘‘The 
Friend of India” he advocated a middle way between 
the Anglicists and the Orientalists, Extremists and 
Traditionalists. Like the Serampore missionaries, he 
advocated a popular education programme through the 
medium of vernacular languages. 

British Orientalist move died during Bentinck’s ad- 
ministration.^^ “The Bentinck-era which many historians 
have viewed as an extention of British reformism to India 
was rather, when regarded in another light, a highly 
disruptive, confusing period that was marked by a crisis 
of identity among the intelligentsia” said David Kopf 
in his research work titled : “British Orientalism and 
the Bengali Renaissance,” 1969. 

From the time of Derozio to the Indian intellec- 
tuals of the nineteenth century, there has been a highly 
articulate intellectual tradition of extreme Westernisa- 
tion and accompanying cultural alienation. “Originally 
nurtured by Derozio at Hindu College during his brief 
but influential tenure as instructor of literature between 
1828 and 1831, the group representing this tradition, 
often known as Young Bengal, devised a new solution to 
the problem of revitalizing Indian culture. Though most 
of them eventually returned to the indigenous cultural 
fold, a small number either espoused Christianity and 
adopted the European Reformation as their model for 
regeneration or remained faithful to Derozio’s secular 
spirit and promoted the new idea of man’s perfectibility 
or progress in a hopeful future. ..the popular impression 


17. ibid. 



IHTBODirOTIOK BT TBB BPITOB XiX 

that a new era opened at Hindu College with Derozio’s 
appointment there seems to be confirmed by historical 
fact. In the eleven years that preceded 1828, Hindu 
College had not produced a single known graduate who 
completely rejected his own culture and sought to identify 
himself with the alien West. What Derozio actually 
imparted to his students was not so much the components 
of modernity as the cultural components representing a 
Western style of life.-.The pathetic absurdity of confusing 
cultural trapping with modernization is apparent in the 
following contemptuous definition of the Anglicized 
Bengali which appeared in a Calcutta periodical of 1851 : 
‘He has smattering of English---is ultra fashionable in 
dress and unceremoniously drags poor Shakespeare and 
Milton from their repose and misquotes the most familiar 
passages. ..sensual delights are the goddess of his idolatry. 
He eats beef, cracks and whole bottle of cognac at 
Spencer’s or Wilson’s ( Quoted in M. M. Mukhopadhyaya. 
‘Young Bengal and Translation Work’ Calcutta Review, 
Vol X, new series, June 1924 )...As a result, one of the 
chief reasons for taking the extraordinary action of dis> 
missing Derozio was that, for the first time in the history 
of Hindu College, irate parents were withdrawing their 
children from the institution.”** 

One year before Derozio’s discharge from the Hindu 
College, in 1830, Alexander Dufif founded General 
Assembly’s Institution ( Mod. Scottish Church College ). 
Dufif had less appreciation for Derozio. His purpose from 
the beginning was to direct the minds of the Young 
Bengalees away from Derozio’s influence. He was further 
interested in bringing them into the blessed realm of 
Christian religion and culture. 

Dufif was Macaulay’s religious counterpart.** Like 
Macaulay be violently attacked Oriental language and 


18. ibid, 
1». ibid. 



XX. 


oalovita and its nbiqhboubhood 


culture while praised^ the usefulness of English. He did 
so as an evanglization. Derozio’s death Tavoured him 
and many a Derozians like K. M. Banerjee, Mohesh 
Chandra Ghosh, Gopinath Nundy embrached to Chris* 
tanity one after another.^* When this was the picture, 
and when Young Bengalees were ridiculing Hindu 
religion, custom, manners and behaviours, Kashi Prosad 
Ghose, a brilliant Hindu Collegian, launched an attack 
in the opposite direction, he bitterly criticised in his essay 
James Mill at the annual examination at Hindu College 
for his 'History of British India’ for Mill’s indictment 
of the ancient Hindu polity. Mill wrote that the Hindus 
had 'no idea of any system of rule, different form of 
will of a single person, appears to have entered the minds 
of them, or their legislators’. Kashi Prosad argued that 
in the past the Hindus were very much civilised and 
said that the power of a Hindu king was never absolute. 
"The monarchs of Hindusthan...was...to be mild and 
observant of the law. The allurement of wealth and power 
on one side, and the terror of religion and law on the 
other, secured the peace of the kingdom.” He also 
defended the ancient Brahmins whom Mill 'charged with 
a tyranical priestly caste/ 

H. H. Wilson was also disturbed by such comments 
of Mills and he was much satisfied to what Kashi Prosad 
had written. When such was the condition and when 
there were different views of the Anglicists, Orientalists 
and others, then, in December 1830, orthodox Hindus 
foufttfed Dharma Sabha.^^ 

"It stood for Hindu way of life and culture.’’ It 
represented a definite polarization in the ranks of the 
intelligentsia vis*a*vis Westernization. The Dharma 
Sabha became the earliest organised group of Indian 

20. Ghosh, Bsitoy, Bidrohi Derozio^ Bak Sahitya, Caloutta, 1961. 

21. Kopf, David, op* cH. Also J. 0, Bagal’s Unuh Sataktr Bangla, 
BFHt Calcutta 



HTTRODUOTION BY THE EDITOE 


xxi 


"^Slavophiles’, while the Dcrozians who supported Bcn- 
tinck’s policies by means of their own societies became 
the ‘Westerners’. Second, because the Dharma Sabha 
organised its defence of Hindu society and culture against 
alien intrusion and used all collective political means 
( such as petitions to the Grown ) to articulate its position, 
this association became the earliest protonationalist move- 
ment in modern India.”” 

But it was the general belief that Dharma Sabha was 
organised simply to defend Sati, this is inaccurate accord- 
ing to David Kopf and we too believe so. The Sabha 
called for Indianization of Civil Service, a hands off 
policy on the Permanent Settlement, a warning about 
the evil effects of colonization, a defence of Sati, a plan for 
aiding the rural poor and proposed for aiding Calcutta's 
poor by building charitable institutions and hospitals. 
With these spirit similar other organisations too came 
into existence where Rammuhan’s ideals got priority. 

Rammuhan’s image as a Hindu Reformer can pro- 
bably be traced to Devendranath Tagore, who, while 
revitalizing the idea of Brahmo Samaj, in 1840-42, 
promptly rc-edited the Raja’s works and popularized his 
message on reformation from within.” Keeping this in 
view we will look to further back for a perspective of 
Long’s role. 


IV 

It should be noted here that East India Company 
came to India for trade. Soon the Company realised 
that their trading interest could be safeguarded only by 
becoming ruling power,” In Bengal, the Company came 
into conflict with the Nawab which resulted the Battle 


SS. ibid. 

23, ibid. 

24. Sinha, N. K. Economic History of Bengal, S vols, Fo K. L. Mukho- 
ipadhyayftt 1062 



zxii OAUJCTTA AirD ITS KBIOHBO0BHOOD 

of Plassey in 1757. By nine years, in 1765, Company’s 
control over the province was established. *It was Warren 
Hastings and Cornwallis who firmly laid the foundation 
of Company’s power in Bengal.** 

The Company in its early days, was unwilling to show 
any interest in the educational matters of the natives. 
The British Parliament in 1813 compelled the Company 
to take interest in native education, but even then, it 
was far from being wholehearted in its endeavour. 
Education had fallen to a very low level by the time the 
Company’s Government had established.** 

The Government took interest for education for the 
first time in 1833, when it made a grant of ^ 20,000 to 
aid schools maintained by charitable and church orga- 
nisations. In 1839, the amount was increased to ,£39,000 
and a Board of Education was constituted.*^ Since then 
different educational organisations made their debut one 
after another with the encouragement of the then 
Government. Thus Hindu College, School Book Society, 
Calcutta Book Society came into force. The Governor 
General in India in Council considered "that all the 
funds'"at the disposal of the Committee hereforth be 
employed in imparting to native population a knowledge 
of English literature and science through the medium 
of English language”** Government declared itself in 
favour of English education but had decided to tolerate, 
for the time being, the study of oriental literature. Since 
this decision of the Government the demand for English 
in education bad increased. 

In 1835 Bentinck’s resolution finally decided between 
oriental and western education, but it did not lay down 

25. Mukherj«ei B. K. The Changing Face of Bengal, A Study in 
Riverine Eoonomy, Univeriity of Caloutt*, 19SS 

26. Sinba# D. P« The Educational Polity of the Mast India Company im 
Bengal to 1B64, Panthi Pustak, Calcutta, 1964. 

27. ibid. 

29. ibid. 



iimtoimoTioN BY THB Borrott 


xzai 


any comprehensive policy. This resolution with modi* 
fication guided the educational policy of the Government 
until 1839, when Auckland after due consideration of 
past developments and actual working of Bentinck’s 
system laid down, a comprehensive scheme of education.** 
The authorities was in favour of confining education 
to the higher and middle classes since they thought that 
the limited funds at their disposal should be spent that 
way and that it would not be possible to provide edu- 
cation to the masses with this shortage of funds. It was 
decided in 1835 that who received higher education in 
the Government Seminaries would in time be able to 
act as teachers to their countrymen and to that way 
educational expenses will come down. But in order to 
do that it was necessary to raise a special body of trained 
teachers and publish suitable text-books. The Govern- 
ment, during the administration of Auckland and 
Hardinge, tried to tackle this problem. In fact, they laid 
the foundation of modern education in India.** 


4 

Rey^rtnd James Long 

s 

It is roughly during this time Rev. Long came to 
India in the service of the Church Missionary Society, 
when he was twenty-six years old, in 1840. Within a 
short span of time he endeared himself to the people of 
his educational and charitable activities. He was actively 
connected with and promoted several important educa- 
tional and literary organisations like Vernacular Litera- 
ture Society, Good Fraternity Sabha, Calcutta Book 
Society, Bengal Social Science Association, Asiatic Society, 
Bethune Society, Society for the Promotion of Industrial 


2«. ibid. 
80. ibid. 



XXIV 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUBHOOD 


Art, Family Literary Club, Christian Tract and Book 
Society, Folk-lore Society, London, and in many others, 
besides, being a member of different committees of the 
Missionary Societies. 

Very little is known about his early life except that 
he came of a very respectable family and from pious 
parents. He, as a brilliant student, was educated in 
Islington College of Church Missionary Society, London^ 
He left London for Russia in 1834. In 1889 when he 
was twenty-five, he was ordained a dccon in the Church 
of England and a priest in 1840. This was the year he 
came to Calcutta. 

In Calcutta, he studied Bengali, Sanskrit, Persian and 
other languages of India. Within three years of his stay 
he contributed a lengthy paper in the Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal^ in 1843, where he had proved his 
capability. The title of this paper was ‘^Table of Compa- 
rative philosophy, shewing specimens of the affinity of 
the Greek, Latin and English languages with Sanskrit, 
Persian, Russian, Celtic, Weis, Lithunian, German, Hebru 
and Anglo-Saxon.” In 1848 he compiled ‘‘A Hand Book 
of Bengal Mission in connexion with Church of England 
Together with An Account of General Educational Efforts 
in North India” and published it through John Farquhar 
Shaw. It fulfilled a longfelt need. 

He was in his full bloom when he was in India and 
had contributed many papers on antiquity, archaeol ogy, 
linguistic, local history, land and people of Calcutta and 
itsjfi^cighbourhood, chronicle of Tripura, analysis of 
Raghuvamsa, Portuguese in North India, Kashmir in 
Olden times, Indian Buddhism, and on many other topics 
in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and Calcutta 
Review. Within ten years of his stay in Calcutta he acquired 
so much knowledge in Bengali language that he could 
brought out ^*Satyarnava”,an illustrated Bengali monthly, 
for preaching Christianity and afpreading of native 
education. 



INTEODTJOTION BY THE BDITOB 


XXV 


A Proverbologist 

It is at this time he realised the great importance of 
proverbs in mass communication or teaching and preach- 
ing work. Long, in course of time, considered proverb 
as an important medium of sociological study.*^ His first 
proverb collection entitled as “Bengali Proverb'* came 
out in 1851. This was highly received. Shortly, he was 
considered as an important provcrbologist of India and a 
pioneer worker in that field. It should be remembered 
that although Reverend Morton was the pioneer scholar 
on the proverb of Bengal, Long’s contribution in this 
field is more significant. Morton’s “A Collection of 
Proverbs” appeared in 1832 or eight years before Long 
reached India. After him. Long collected more than six 
thousand proverbs in his Probadmala : Two Thousand Bengali 
Proverbs Illusirating Native Life and Feeling 1868 and 
Three Thousand Bengali Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings Ulus- 
iraiing Native Life and Feelings Among Riots Tenants and 
Womenf^ 1872. In his work Long received the help of 
Pandit Nabin Ghundcr Bunerjea and many other native 
helpers including poet Rangalal Bandyopadhyay. 

The inspiration of collecting Bengali Proverb came to 
his mind when he realised that the great is the impor- 
tance of proverbs in sociological studies. In his sociologi- 
cal works, he was convinced, that, proverbs can throw 
much light on many aspects of folk society. He writes — “I 
found the services of Pundits, teachers, and inspectors 
of village schools, of great value in collecting them. The 
editors of native newspapers also lent me aid by adver- 
tising their willingness to receive and forward to me 
any that might be sent to them. As the best collections 
of proverbs are among the women, who interland their 

31. Long Rev. James. **Oriental Proverbs in* their Relatione to 
Folklore^ History, Sooiology ; with Suggestions for their Collection, 
Interpretation, Publications,*’ Dr. MahadevaProsad Saha, (Kd.Calcaita* 
19S6 ). First ed. 1876. Hereafter referred to as Oriental Previrhs 
appeared in Folkters Records ^ London, 1881. 



xxvi 


OAliOUTTA AKD ITS NXIGE&OV&HOOD 


discourses plentifully with them, I paid women to collect 
them from zenanas (women quarters).” Even though he did 
not print the names and addresses of his informants, nor 
had he said anything about the place of collection which 
is a great defect, according to the social scientists of the 
present day, for such a collection. 

Further, some proverbs appeared in Rev. Morton’s 
work were included in Long’s, or the proverbs appeared 
in both the collections are very much identical. Here also 
he has not referred Morton. Yet it should be said that 
be was successful in influencing a generation of native 
scholars to collect and study proverbs systematically.’^ 

An Educator 

It was for his wide knowledge in native literature and 
dialects, he was entrusted with by the then Government 
of the country and Missionaries alike to render into 
English from and among the native literature such items 
which he thought was necessary for them for their knowing 
the natives. Besides, he was also an Executive member 
of the Calcutta Book Society and for this Society he 
had translated a number of text*books. He was so trusted 
by the establishment and so faithful, yet as bad luck with 
him, be had to face a trial where be was convicted. 
Further, he got the admiration of the sons and daughters 
of India — they loved him and had regard for him, yet, 
when he left the country, he was forgotten. In order to 
suggest why this happened or the reason for this we will 
quo^.a few words from a statement of bis. This statement 
be made in the Court room where be was tried, to support 
his stand which actuated him in arranging for the 
translation and publication of “Nil-Darpan.” 

It is from this statement we know that “thousands 
of Bengali books were submitted by me during the 
last ten years to the notice of the Europeans of infln* 

S2. Siddlqai. Ashraf **Some foreigaerg* oontribution lo Indian Folk*' 
loro*^ Folkhrie Calcutta, Blarob, 1074 • 



INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR 


aatvii 


cnce’*. He also said that ^•my time has been spent 
chiefly among Natives, engaged in Vernacular teaching, 
in the charge of a body of Native Christians, and in 
the promotion of Christian Vernacular literature*'.^ 
He said •*! have aimed for the last ten years in 
my leisure hours to be an exponent of Native opinion 
in its bearing on spiritual, social and intellectual 
welfare of Natives of this land ; as for instance, when 
applied to, on the part of the Court of Directors, seven 
years ago, to procure for their Library copies of all ori- 
ginal works in Bengali, or as when lately, I sent to 
Oxford by request copies of all Bengali translation from 
Sanskrit ; or when I have procured for missionaries. 
Government, Rajas &c. vernacular books of all kinds I 
should have been a strange person indeed, had my opinion 
harmonised with all the chaos of opion in those various 
publications. Why 1 At the request of missionaries I have 
procured anti-Christian works for them, as they wished 
to know what was written against Christianity*** Almost 
every week I receive new Vernacular books, and I make 
a point bring them to the notice of Europeans on various 
grounds. Sir F. Halliday honoured my ‘Reports on Verna- 
cular Press’ by publishing them ; so did the present 
Government in the case of publishing my Sketch of 
Vernacular Literature ; . so did the Vernacular Litera- 
ture Religious Tract Society, Christian Tract and Book 
Society, shew their confidence in publishing various works 
of minc.**^^ The motive behind rendering native litera- 
ture into English is said by Long himself. He declares 
**Many felt then, as I had long felt before, how unsafe 
it was for the English to reside in India in ignorance of 


33. Long’s Statement to the Supreme Court on July 34, 1861 before 
the sentence was passed* Reprinted in the book '*Nil Durpan on 
the the Indigo Planting Mirror”. Trans, from the Bengali by a Hative 
Ed. with an introduction by Sankar Sen Qupta, Calcutta, Indian 
Publications, 1873. 

34. ibid 



xzviii 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHB0T7BH00D 


and indifTerence to the current of Native feeling. The 
mutiny, in common with the Afgan War, has, showed 
that the English in India were generally unacquainted 
with it, so a short time previous to the mutiny the Santhal 
War burst but unexpectedly to the public. For a long 
period Thuggee and torture were prevailing in India, 
without the English knowing anything of them. Had I, 
as a missionary, previous to the mutiny, been able to 
submit to men of influence a Native drama which would 
have thrown light on the views of sepoys and Native 
chiefs, how valuable might the circulation of such a 
drama have proved, although it might have ensured 
severely the treatment of Natives by Europeans ; the 
indifference of sepoy officers generally towards their men ; 
and the policy of Government to Native States. Such 
a drama might have help to save millions of money and 
torrents of human blood--* Has Calcutta forgot the lessons 

taught by the mutiny ? As a clergyman and a friend 

to the peaceable residence of my countrymen in India, 
I beg to state the following as motive for my editing 
such work as the Nil Darpan. I for years have not been 
able to shut my eyes to what many able men see looming 
in the distance. It may be distant, or it may be near ; 
but Russia and Russian influence are rapidly approach- 
ing the frontier of India.... Could I, then, as a clergy- 
man have watched with apathy measures like those in 
connection with the Indigo system which were furthering 
this Russian policy, and which might lead to war and 
diss^sions that would retard for a long period the pro- 
gress of religion, education and peaceful commerce... As 
a missionary, I have deep interest in seeing the fault of 
my countrymen corrected ; for after a residence of my 
20 years in India, I must bear this testimony — that, of 
all the obstacles of the spread of Christianity in India, 
one of the greatest is the irreligious conduct of many of 
<my own countrymen... I have circulated many pamphlets 
in England on *The ryot, his teachers, and tortures* and 



INTHODUCTION BT THE EDITOB 


xzix 


on the evils resulting from the ryots not having a sound 
Vernacular education. When I have not shrunk from 
exposing many social evils to which the ryot is subject^ 
I beg to submit, -could I have avoided, in my position, 
exposing his suffering from the Indigo system 

This lengthy quotation speaks of Long's philosophy. 
He was essentially a religious worker and a humanitarian. 
He wanted good for his own countrymen, and was equally 
interested for such ryots who might take interest in the 
religion. Again, he was anti-Russians perhaps because 
of its approacahing to irreligious outlook. He was very 
much active and diligent. He collected from the natives 
their opinions and ideas etc. for the Europeans and their 
agents — the Rajas. By doing these, he rendered the 
unofficial service of an Intelligent Personnel. Long could 
convince the Government of the day the importance of 
this work and he advocated for the appointment of a per- 
manent official to review Indian publications — books, 
journals, pamphlets, records, etc. and it is for this he 
collected proverbs and published them in book form. 
In the absence of an official, James Long was adviced 
to carry on with the work. He took this responsibility 
on his own shoulder with interest and to inform the 
concerned people about socio-political view of the sons 
of the soil. 

It is from this statement one can deduce how much 
he was interested for the affairs of the Bengalees as well 
for the wellbeing of his own countrymen and for the 
religion he belonged to. Definitely he was not as much 
interested for the natives as he was for his own country- 
men. His services for the natives, in the initial stage, was 
conditioned as with other missionaries of his time and so 
we see a large number of missioneries in India in the 
service of the natives. But, in course of time, he developed 


3 ^. im 



xxz 


OALOUTTA AXO ITS HBISHBOimsOOD 


a love for the natives, as a matter of fact, and for this 
love he got his prize and censure both. 

A Social Scientist 

Long was closely connected with many socio-cultural- 
literary organisations of Bengal, When Vernacular 
Literature Religious Tract Society was established in 
1850 with a view to translate good English books into 
Bengali, he was not only a member there but also was 
one of its founders. It is reported in the first year’s 
Proceedings of the Society, published in 1853, that Long 
was busy in preparing an index of native newspapers and 
annotated note on the articles etc. published there. In 
the next annual report of the Society it was mentioned 
that Long’s report has already been published. This 
report was enlarged in the next year and he published 
it as a full-length report with the title : *‘A Return of 
the Names and Writings of 515 persons connected with 
Bengali literature, either as Authors or Translators of 
Printed works, and a Catalogue of Bengali Newspapers 
and Periodicals which have issued from the Press from 
the year 1818 to 1855” ( Selections from the Bengal 
Government, 1855, No. XXII ). Among the list of donors 
of the Society, one finds Long’s name. Here he donated 
a sum of Rs. 50. . 

It is not only that. Rev. Long was also entrusted with 
some projected work, in addition to his ofiScial duty, 
and he was the only recognised person on whose 
reconunendation, the Society undertook the publication 
of vernacular books. In order to do Justice to the cause, 
when the translated manuscript was submitted to Rev. 
Long for his opinion, he tested the work taking the help 
of his pupils at Thakurpukur in the following way : He 
read the manuscript in the presence of bis pupils and 
if they could understand the language, .he thought the 
translation was perfect and up to the mark. Then he 
recbminended it for publication. If it was found that 



UrTBODtrOTION BV THB BDITOB XZXi 

the tranilation was stiff, and bis pupils could not 
understand the language, he advised for revision or a 
lucid translation. This was his method. This method he 
also followed while selecting Bengali proverbs. Collected 
proverbs were tested through the natives by him again 
and again before inclusion. This method of checking, 
he again followed, when English translation of “Nil 
Darpan” was published by him. Completing the 
translation of the drama from Bengali to English, 
it was submitted, it is presumed, to Michael M. 
S. Outt for verification and opinion. Perhaps M. S. 
Dutt hurridly gone through it in a single night without 
consulting the original Bengali work. It might be, for this 
some scholars ascribe Madhusudan as the translator of 
“Nil Darpan” which is not justified by facts. This point we 
had thoroughly discussed in the introduction of the book 
“Nil Durpan or the Indigo Planting Mirror,” Indian 
Publications Edition, Calcutta, 1972. An interested reader 
may look at to that for further clarification of this point. 

Long was also responsible for the establishment of the 
Society for the Promotion of Industrial Art in Calcutta. 
In March, 31, 1854 it was established. It was the nucleus 
of the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Calcutta. 
The Society was formed with a seventeen men committee. 
Prior to this fulMength committee, there was a prepa- 
ratory committee with seven men. In this committee also 
Long was a member. Government Art College was estab- 
lished on 16th August, 1854.** 

When the Family Literary Club was established in 
1857 in Calcutta, Long took active part there also. He 
was the President of this Club for many years. When 
he left India for good, this Club gave him a farewell. 
In his farewell address, on 20th March 1872, he stressed 
the need of sociological studies in India. 

Here he delivered a lecture on “Social Science->-its 

Se. Sen OupM. Mian F»lk art and eraft in “Studies in Indisn 

ffolk ooltur#,’* Bd. Ben Gupke end Upedhyny OnloutU 1M4. 



XXlfii CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 

Utility for India” in 1866 just after his return from London 
where he went in 1862 immediately after hi» release from 
the imprisonment. 

Long felt the necessity of establishing Social Science 
Association in Bengal in the line of the National Associa- 
tion for the Cultivation of Social Science in Great Britain. 
An opportunity came when Miss Marry Carpenter, its 
President, came to visit India, for the first time, in Novem- 
ber, 1861. On 17th December, 1861, in a meeting of the 
natives and foreigners at the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 
Social Science Association was formed with Rev. James 
Long as the most active member. Later, he was the Presi- 
dent of this Association. After more than a century of this 
Association, for point of information, a central organisation 
for conducting researches on social sciences was established 
in India in 1967. This organisation, no doubt, has many 
plans and programmes for the development of social 
sciences. Bombay claims its pioneer position for sociolo- 
gical studies in India but it is not corroborated by facts. 
The seed for such an organisation came a century ago from 
Calcutta. Of course, the modern development and metho- 
dology are new orientation but the idea of social sciences 
research arc not new. It is thus with the recommendation of 
the Planning Commission, Government of India appointed 
a Committee on Social Science Research under the Chair- 
manship of Prof. V. K. R. V. Rao in 1965. The Committee 
submitted its Report in November 1967 and made several 
important recommendations for the development of social 
science reasearch in India. Accordingly Indian Council 
for Social Sciences Research was established.” 

However, Long was closely connected with the Bengal 
Social Science Association. In fact, he was one of the 
founders and the key-men there. The Association en- 
deavoured to collect, arrange and classify series of facts 
bearing on the social, intellectual and moral condition^ 


31. PtooeediDgs of the ICSSB, New Delhi. 



INTRODUCTION BY THB BDITOB 


XXXIU 


of the people of Bengal at the initiative of Reverend 
James Long. The missionaries of Calcutta also made an 
application with the instigation of Long, to the Govern- 
ment for a Royal Commission to enquire into the social 
condition of the rural population of Bengal. They got 
inspiration for doing so through the works in the Bengal 
Social Science Association. We regret, we are unable 
to place before our readers the petition, but the substance 
of application may be had from the following ; 

Para. I. Certain Missionaries belonging to various 
religious societies, and residing in and near Calcutta, 
presented a Memorial to the Lieutenant-Governor of 
Bengal in the month of September last, in which they 
set forth, in strong terms, the deplorable condition, in 
its social aspect, of the rural population of Bengal. In 
their specification of evils, which press most heavily upon 
the people, the Missionaries advert to the inefficiency of 
the Police, and of the judicial system now in operation 
in the Bengal Presidency ; to the prevalence of gang 
robberies and affrays respecting disputed boundaries ; to 
the frequency of torture in order to extort confessions ; 
to the demoralizing influences of contentions between 
landed proprietors, and of the corruption of the* Police, 
as tending to pauperise and enslave the peasantry ; to 
the existing zemindari system ( in connection with the 
general character of both zemindar and ryot ), which 
emboldens the rich to set the law at defiance, and leads 
the poor to despair of obtaining redress ; to the extortion 
of the zemindars ; to the want of a survey of the country ; 
and to the absence of a Registration Act to settle titles 
and of laws against secret trusts. 

2. The above is a brief summary of the social evils, 
which the memorialists allege, not only to be in active 
operation, but which they regret to declare, appear on the 
increase. They feel themselves bound to declare that 
they view with alarms as well as sorrow, the continuance 
of the evils which they have so long declared, and the effects 
~C 



xxxiv 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


of which are seen in the demoralization and the sufferings 
of the people ; they believe that measures of •relief can 
with safety be delayed no longer, as from the information 
they have acquired, they fear that the discontent of the 
rural population is daily increasing, and that a bitter 
feeling of hatred towards their rulers is being engendered 
in their minds ; and they close their memorial with the 
prayer, that a Commission may be appointed, consisting 
of Snen of independent minds unbiassed by official or 
local prejudices, to institute a searching enquiry into all 
the causes, that now affect the condition of the popula- 
tion ; especially into the state of the Police and the 
judicial system, the powers and influence of the zemindars 
and planters, and how those powers are used ; the 
resources and earnings of the labouring classes, and the 
proportion which these bear to the rent they are compelled 
to pay j the harassing exactions and oppressions to which 
the poor are subject ; the landed tenures ; the extension 
of the Government sales of ardent spirits and intoxicating 
drugs people once celebrated for temperance ; the actual 
extent to which education is provided for the masses, 
and the best means of alleviating the sufferings and eleva- 
ting the condition of the people.** 

We also quote below an informative letter that Rev. 
James Long wrote to Major Lee, L.L D., at the time of 
the second print of Major Lee’s book ‘‘Land and Labour 
of India.” Dr. Lee writes in connection with this letter 
that “The following letter reached me too late to make 
any use (^the contents. Indeed my review had been sent 
to England about a month or six weeks before I received 
it. As the Rev. J. Long, however, is more intimately 
acquinted with the condition of the peasantry of Bengal 
than perhaps any European in it ; as he has ever shewn 

a8« The Judioial Dopartment No. 20 of 1857 Public liOtters, dated 
lith November ( No. 182 ) 1860. Answer to Memorial of oeriam 
Ohriatiao Missionaries praying for a CommiaSiOU ot Enquiry into the 
aoeial condition of the rural population, dated. Maifoh li, 1807^ 



INTBODUOTION BY THE BPITOB 


xxxr 


a deep and sincere interest in their welfare, I append 
his remarks in extenao. The Rev. Gentleman has lately 
made a tour in Russia, where he had an opportunity of 
acquainting himself with the results of the emancipation 
of the serf ; and his opinions, though many may differ 
from them as widely as they will from my own, as those 
of an honest, earnest, and sincere Christian Missionary 
who has spent the better part of a long life in good works 
among the poor of Bengal, are worthy of every respect.*' 
Below we quote the letter of Rev. J. Long. 

‘‘My Dear Major Lee — As I hear that you are send- 
ing for republication in England, an extract from your 
valuable work relating chiefly to the important question 
of ‘The Indian Ryot,* I take the liberty of offering some 
remarks on what is at the present time a deeply interest- 
ing subject. 

The time is favourable for considering the state of 
the agricultural classes of India— it is the era of conci- 
liation, planter and cooly, zemindar and ryot, are feeling 
that they must work in harmony, that it is the case of the 
belly and the members. Whether we look to the defence 
of India against foreign or internal war, to the develop- 
ment of its resources, or the moral and intellectual 
improvement of the country — all must mainly depend on 
one arrangement, a people contented because their rights 
in the soil are secured—even by the ancient law of India 
the ownership of the soil was vested in the cultivator. 

In Europe also a new era is dawning on the agricultural 
and working classes, the boors are walking from degra- 
dation of ages to feel that they have rights as men and 
corresponding emotions of sympathy are being excited 
among the higher classes. Early examine ragged schools, 
aldermen form associations of shoe-blacks, and titled 
ladies may be seen trudging down narrow lanes with 
tracts and doctor's stuff for the dirty inmates. Unless 
our Indian Empire is to be based on bayonets, we must 
'conde^end to men of l6w estate.’ Even Russia, which 



xxxvi 


OAIiCXTTTA AKD ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


is SO far behind England in almost everything, in the case 
of securing the rights of the peasantry ; sets a bright 
example to India. The heroic conduct of the Czar, who 
in spite of the determined opposition of the nobility, 
emancipated 23,000,000 of serfs, ^ho enjoy peasant 
proprietorship, village municipal institutions, and repre- 
sentative provincial assemblies, thus laying broad and 
deep the foundations of the true greatness and prosperity 
of Russia. The Czar risked his throne to secure the rights 
of the peasantry, and he rested the whole superstructure 
of the Empire on the ten pillers — the land is the peasant’s 
own — and self-government is administered by peasant 
Magistrates elected from among their own class. I have 
been in Courts when the Russian peasant sat along with 
the noble in the administration of justice. Arising from 
this is the tendency to decentralized administratson. 
Open Courts, trial by jury, a greater freedom of the press, 
and a desire for education, are among the fruits, that 
are springing up. Soldiering is not as popular as it was 
in Russia. 

Ample illustrations of the benefit of peasant proprie- 
torship might be drawn from Switzerland, Norway, 
Belgium, and France. But one of the most striking 
instances is the case of Prussia. After the expulsion of 
Napokan’s troops, it was felt, there was no security for 
the national independence as long as the peasant had 
not his rights ; accordingly, under the firm hand of Baron 
Stein, Aat system of peasant rights was secured, which 
has led to so many social and moral blessings in Prussia 
and which was the main cause of enabling Prussia to take 
the position of leader of Germany. 

With this awakening up of million in Russia and 
America to a consciousness of their dignity as men, how 
long is the Bengal ryot to remain a helot, a semi-serf, a 
mere machine, a blot on the fair fame^f England. In 
1793 be was handed over bound hand and foot tn 
the tedder mercies of land-jobbers. Even now the ryot 



INTEODUOnON BT THE BDITOB 


zzxrii 


•receives no education from the state ; 97 per cent cannot 
read intelligently, his ignorance renders him the victim 
of superstition, the prey of the usurer, and the petty 
lawyer. The late (Orissa) famine has filled up the cup of 
his misery, one million and a half at least have fallen 
victim to famine and its consequence. Were the autho- 
rities found napping ? 

Now is the time to urge these points, as the Bombay 
Gazette’s admirably remarks, ‘‘The great dumb multi- 
tude, who have no art or part in the Government of 
India, save meekly to contribute twenty millions of land 
revenue to its exchequer, without daring to ask Govern- 
ment to spend a single rupee in the improvement of the 
land, or dreaming of enquiring in what manner it appro- 
priates the enormous tax it levies on them, has hitherto 
been dumb and uncomplaining through mere excess of 
ignorance ; *^and the martyrdom of one-fourth of the population 
of the province seems to have been required to convince Oovem- 
menty that it has duties to discharge towards the ryots of India as 
important as those of an English esquire or an Irish landlordJ^ 
5urdy if the tenant right is about to be established in 
Ireland, England will not hold back a similar measure 
from the ryots of Bengal, when she was the instrument 
by the Act of 1793 of reducing them to their present 
condition, when she framed them out, body and soul, to 
men, who were originally collectors, but whom by a 
strange act, she constituted proprietors of the soil. 

What is the remedy for the condition of the Bengal 
ryot ? I feel it will not be found in India ; of late years 
feudal notions regarding land have been in favour with 
the high class of Government officials, European non- 
officials, and native gentry. The reform, therefore, must 
oome from England, where the interest of the working 
classes have been of late years regarded ; and a Reform 
Bill is sure to pass Parliament, which will give greater 
power to the friends of the working man and of peasant 
proprietorship \ will react on this country, and secure 



TXXYiii 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


better friends to the peasant than exist at present when 
the Governors of all the local Presidencies ^.re feudalists 
in their notions of land. Sir J. Lawrence is one of the 
few friends to peasant proprietorship in India. 

A reformed Parliament might give the leverage for 
Reform in Bengal in the following points : irrigation and 
canal works, rural savings’ banks etc. are what all are 
agreed on. The following subjects arc deserving consi- 
deration : 

1. Peasant proprietorship or Poor Law — ^this may 
seem to interfere with vested rights on some points, but 
I believe, landholders, on due consideration, may come 
to the conclusion, that it is better to sacrifice a few 
of their own rights in order to preserve the remainder. 
It is too late to imagine that in the 19th century the 
welfare of the masses shall be subordinated to the selfish- 
ness of an oligarchy. The greatest good of greatest num- 
ber is the cardinal principle. The ryot of Bengal lives 
from hand to mouth, he has no provision for a rainy 
day — this can be met either by making him a peasant 
proprietor, or if not, by a tax on land, securing him a 
legal recourse against starvation. The laws both of 
heaven and earth are opposed to the idea, that the desti- 
tute shall be dependent on a precarious and fitful alms 
giving — the land must secure against destitution ; it is 
so in England and Ireland, and it makes it the land- 
holders’ interest that the peasant should be well off. 

2. Compulsory Vernacular Education— the expense 
defrayed by local rates. The ryot now through his igno- 
rance if^victimized by the usurer in the courts, and in 
all cases where documentary evidence is resorted to. He 
puts his mark to legal deeds, the contents of which he is 
unable to read, his land is measured for him, but be has 
no means of checking the measurement. His educated 
countrymen have done little to remedy this state of 
things. 

3. The appointment of a Minister of Agriculture and 



INTBOD0OTIO9 BT THB BDITOB 


zxxix 


Commerce.— There arc plenty of well-paid Government 
agents for collecting the revenue, but there is not one 
whose special function would-be to attend to the vital 
question of Agricultural Statistics of the state and prospect 
of the crops, model farms, and agricultural education, 
all of which tend to increase the revenue. The Association 
of Zemindars, called the British Indian Association, has 
petitioned to appoint a Minister of Agriculture. The 
famine showed the need of such official ; what was every- 
body's business was no one’s, one man in that office 
might have saved Bengal from much of the evil conse- 
quences of the famine. 

4. Officials should see more of the people and 
peasantry — the tendency at present is to load officials 
with red tape, leave them up in office, where all informa- 
tion regarding the masses reaches them through cooked 
up reports, or from the ignorant surmisings of native 
clerks, who have no means of knowing the actual state 
of the district ; book-learned they may be, but little 
acquainted with the people, this is a crying evil, it was 
one of the causes of the mutiny. I throw out the above 
hints, the discussion of them can do no harm ; if they be 
found impracticable, the ventilation of the question may 
suggest other modes of action. 

March 8, 1867 Yours faithfully, 

James Long'*” 


A Humanitarian 

As a clergyman he wanted to stand for morality and 
truthfulness. He also wanted fair deal from everybody 
and was prepared to invite clash even with his country- 
men if these things were wanting in them. A typical 

39. Long*8 letter addressed to Major Dr. Nasaaw Lee, L.L.D., 
the author of ‘‘Land and Labour of India'*. Quoted from Abbay 
Oharan Das's **Tke Indian Kyot. Land Tax, Permanent Settlement 
And Famine." . Howrah, 1881. 



XL 


OALOTTTTA AND ITS NSIGHBOUBHQOD 


Irish indeed ! In course of his work he came in close 
contact with the natives. So when l^e saw indigo 
troubles he sided with the natives for obvious reason. 
But this was not liked by the Indigo Planters. He 
ignored them as he saw that the British Indigo Plan- 
ters treated ryots or natives as ‘nigger* and tortured them 
like beasts. Lord Kinnaird, in 1858, brought many 
misdeeds of the Planters before the Parliament. But the 
agitation against the oppression and exploitation did not 
stop. The ryots began to gather round and broke out 
in an open revolt. 

In consequence to that a Commission was appointed 
with five members. Two of them belonged to the Civil 
Service ; one was a prominent merchant of Calcutta and 
a nominee of the Indigo Planters’ Association ; the fourth 
was a baptist missionary ; and the fifth, an Indian gentle- 
man of high caste and position representing the British 
Indian Association.^® The report of the Commission was 
a painful reading, and rare was a man who could help 
shedding tears, reading the inhuman and brutal treat- 
ment of the Planters. Dinabandhu came »out with his 
Bengali drama NihDarpan. It was the first realistic 
presentation of the life and agonies of the oppressed folks— 
a bold step whose import on the evolution of the Bengali 
literature as a whole has been tremendous. This drama 
was translated into English which ‘burst like a cyclone 
over society.’ A raging campaign was started by the 
British owned press against its English translation. 

Jpe Planters failing to get the name of the translator 
prosecuted the Printer, Mr. C. H. Manuel,** who gave 
out the name of Rev. James Long at his own request. A 
libel suit was instituted against James Long for libelling 

iO. The Commiisioa was oomposed of W. 8. Seton-Karrt O. S. as 
Freaidont, and R. Temple, Esq. 0, S., Rev. J. Sale, W. F. Furgossoa 
Eeq. and Chandra Hohaa Ohatterjee , as members. 

41. Sen Gupta, Sankar. Introduotion of ^the book** NU^DurfMm or 
ikiMigoPUuamgMitm^ Oaleutta, Zndian Pablioatfozu, 1972. 



INTBODUGTION BY THE EBITOB iXL 

Editor of the Englishman, and libelling the indigo planters 
of Lower Bengal. In the judgement, Long was sentenced 
to pay a fine of Rs. 1000 and suffered imprisonment, in 
the common jail, for one month. 

Sisir Kumar Ghosh of ‘^Amrita Bazar Patrika/’ one of 
the visitors of Jail, wrote in later days : *‘The writer of 
this note was quite a young lad when the late Rev. J. 
Long was sent to imprisonment by Mordaunt Wells for 
having translated Nil Darpan. There was a great deal 
of commotion in the country and the writer took it into 
his head to pay a visit to Mr. Long in prison. Mr. Long 
was put in the only third-stories room and his wife had 
been permitted to live with him. ..There was a great 
demonstration on the day of his release/’^^ It was because 
Long had a sincere concern for the native people. 

A Library Scientist 

In the foregoing pages we have discussed Long*s role 
as a humanitarian, a proverbologist, a sociologist, an 
educator, an organiser and a man of dynamic personality* 
Now we will see his role as a pioneer worker of library 
science in India. Of course, it should be noted in this 
connection that during the time of Long, Library Science 
has not as developed as now. It is a new and developing 
science. The collection, selection, preservation of library 
materials through catalogues, bibliographies or other 
scientific medium did not come to force in Long’s time. 
Yet, Long realised that, for the development of knowledge, 
education and culture, documentation of library materials 
was a necessary thing. He was also aware of the work of 
library service and of procurement of books. Thus 
he wrote to Pearychand Mitra, the then Librarian of 
the Calcutta Public Library in 1851 that the Vernacular 
Literary Religious Tract Society of which he was the 
President had established libraries for the English books at 
<Galcutta» Agarpara, Burdwan, Krishnagar and Ratanpur 
43. Amrita Baaar Fatrika, May 19, 1887. 



riiiL 


OALOUTTA AKD ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


and for the Bengali books at Thakurpukur, Sole^ Chapra, 
Ballavpur and Kapasdanga. He also ioformed that in 
the Library of the Calcutta Centre of the Society, there 
were about 800 books and as soon as they came across of a 
new Bengali book, they purchased that for their libraries. 
Jaikisscn Mookerjea of Uttarpara donated to the Verna- 
cular Literary Society all his Bengali collections which 
were about 800 in number. 

Long was considered an authority of vernacular 
literature and culture by the powers so as per his recom- 
mendation India Office Library of London was organised 
and books were procured from India. On the request of 
Professor M. Williams of Oxford University, he procured 
Bengali translations of Sanskrit works for him. This he 
divulged in his statement at the Supreme Court. 

All these are generally the works of Library personnel. 
It should remembered that before the enactment 
of Book Registration Act of 1869 there was no systematic 
catalogue of books and journals published in Bengali. 
Long fulfilled this need with the publication of (1) A 
Return of the names and writings of 515 persons connected 
with Bengali Newspapers and periodicals from 1818-1855. 
(2) Return relating to publications in the Bengali language, 
in 1857 to which is added, a list of the native presses^ with the 
boohs printed at eachy their price and character y with a notice 
of the past condition and future prospects of the vernacular 
presses of Bengal and (3) Descriptive catalogue of vernacular 
hooks and pamphlets forwarded by the Government of India to 
Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867 to which is added a list of 
vernacular works sent from Agra Presidency and a list of works 
published in 1865 in North-Western Provinces. 

or course, in these three books one may come accross 
some overlaping information but that was inevitable for 
such works and these were necessary for obvious reason. 
These three books are indispensable, even these days, for 
the study of Bengal’s socioditerary history and culture of 
that period. . , 



INTBODUOTION BY THE EDITOB vifc 

How he was interested in this documentation work or in 
library method may also be known from Hand Book of 
the Bengal Missions in connexion with the Church of EnglandJ*^ 

Shortly after his arrival in India he felt the necessity 
of such a book that bears the accounts of various activities 
of different missions. The book, we have already men- 
tioned, appeared in 1848. It is a work of bibliographic 
nature. Next, we have seen his descriptive catalogue. 
This catalogue was the first bibliography of Bengali works. 
Of course, Bengali words or dialects were not used there, 
these were printed in roman script. 

Let us give a more detail look to the Descriptive Cata- 
logue of Bengali works. This work contains about fourteen 
hundred books of which only four hundred and eighty- 
eight were serially numbered. Long also utilised abbrevia- 
tions. He had recorded the names and addresses of the 
printers and printing presses along with the publishers. 
This was followed by the information — whether the work 
is original or a translation, if translation, from which 
language, that is to say, in English ? in Sanskrit ? etc. 
Then was given the price. The work was divided into 
three parts such as (i) Education, (ii) Literary and 
Miscellaneous and (iii) Theological. In the first part, 
following sub-divisions were made : Arthmatic, Dictio- 
nary, Ethics, Geography, Moral-talcs, Geometry, History 
and Geography, Pharmacy, Economic, Education etc. 
Literary and Miscellaneous part was divided into Law, 
Periodical, Almanac, Encyclopaedia, Newspapers, Poem, 
Drama, Popular song and others. Third part is divided 
into Books of the Scramnorc Mission — old and new,— 
Research and out-of-print works, Transactions of Associa- 
tions) Trust Society etc.. Ancient literature of the 
Muslims, Puranas, Saivism, Vaishnavism etc. In all, there 
were thirty-three sub-divisions in three main parts and 
one-fifth of the book was devoted to Theological works. 

It is a very important and useful work from the point 
of view of history of the books published in Bengal in the 



TiL OALOUTTA AND ITS NBiaHBOUBHOOD 

•early period* Through this catalogue we know many 
foreigners were interested in Bengali language and 
literature and have contributed their writings for the 
development of Bengal. 

His name will also be remembered in connection with 
a law against the obscene books and literature. It is at 
his effort that a law was passed by the Legislative Council 
to stop obscene books and literature. 

An Indologist 

Long's lifelong interest on India continued unabated. 
Many Indians who went to London from 1872 to 1887 
paid their visit to Long to pay their respects. One of 
these visitors was T. N. Mukharja, the then Curator of 
Indian Museum, who was deputed by the Government 
there in connection with the Colonial and Indian 
Exhibition.*^ T. N. Mukharja, who is popularly known as 
Trailakhanath, was the architect of humourous literature 
and nonsense rhymes and famous for his ‘Kankavatr* 
and other Bengali works. Mukharja writes that ^‘Long 
was never tired of the theme and every time he came, he 
had some new points ready on which he sought to be 
enlightened, and which was evidently in his mind during 
the week.*’ This means, all the time Long gave thought of 
India and whenever any question arose in his mind, he 
jotted that down in paper and as soon as he could meet an 
Indian, he asked those questions to them for answers. 
In this way even when Long was out of India, he kept 
contjict with Indiana for keeping him well informed. 
Mahadeva Prosad Saha writes that ‘‘Before his death 
Long gave bulk of his property and a sum of £ 2000 to 
Church Missionery Society (^at London) to endow a Long 
Lecturship on Oriental Religion”.** 

48. See Sen Qapta, Sankar, (Ed.) Thi Patas and Patuas cf Bengal, 
Oalcatta, Indian PabUoatioos, 1978 for some deUbile about Colonial 
and Indian Exhibition and T. N. Mukharja. 

44. 8Aha» M. P* op* oit. 



IKTBODUOTION BY THB BDITOB VL- 

Regarding the collection of proverbs he wanted that 
the Bengal Social Science Association ‘‘should issue a 
circular to the leading Oriental and Ethnological Societies 
in Europe, Asia and America, asking their co-operation 
towards the collection, interpretation, and publication 
of proverbs, especially in reference to India, acting there 
through the Asiatic Societies of Calcutta, Bombay and 
Madras, as well as through the Director of Public Instruc- 
tions in the local Governments and the editors of Native 
journals and newspapers. ...This subject I brought before 
the Oriental Congress at their last (2nd) session in London 
(1875). There was no time to have it discussed there j 
but perhaps the question of Oriental proverbs may be 
submitted again in the next Congress to be held at St. 
Petersburg^® (in 1876). Long pursued the case thus and on 
April 13, 1880, he could read a paper titled : ^^Proverha : 
English and Celtic, with iheir Eastern Relation^* at the meet- 
ing of the Folk-Lore Society, London. It was printed in 
Folklore Record^ III, 1880, with a tentative introduction to 
the subject. In this introduction it was written : “The 
work began a quarter century ago in the jungles of India 
for the instruction of the peasants and women.*,. ..(for) 
proverbs will very often serve to rouse the slugging atten- 
tion of a congregation proverb will very often serve to 

produce a smile of good nature in an apparently ill- 
tempered audience, and so to call forth a kindly feeling 
which did not seem to exist.*® 

VI 

We must bear in mind in this connection that Long’s 

45. The latomational Congress of Orientalists owes its origin to 
the oonoeptlon of the enterprising French scholar De Rosny who pre- 
sided over the first session held at London in 1874. The second sesaion^ 
too was held there in 1875 and 1876 third session was held at St. 
Petersburg. See Ashraf, Siddiqui also op. olt* 

46. Long J. BasHm Prooirbs and EmbUm, illustrating old truths Intro- 
duction, Lo^on, Trubner A Co., 1881. 



CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 

deeper qualities of head and heart came to him from 
the environments of his living, from his religious-minded 
parents whose disciplined habits and orderly life left an 
indelible impression on him. He believed, his missionary 
work could be done with the spread of religion and for 
that purpose he had adopted his own methods. He had 
an intense interest in self discipline and introspection. 

Having developed a keen appetite for different langu- 
age, he had acquired fair knowledge in several European 
languages other than Enlish, and learnt different oriental 
languages like Sanskrit and Bengali. 

He was, in fact, a prolific wiiter and a man of diverse 
interests. He had contributions in proverbology, socio- 
logy, bibliography and many other branches of knowledge. 
With all these it can be said that he was a student in 
the real sense of the term. 

He advocated intimate relationship between the 
teacher and the taught, affected, preferably through a 
personal discussion carried on individually or in a small 
group. Leading a disciplined life, ever devoted to in- 
tellectual pursuits and to imbibing and imparting of 
knowledge, his was a life of ideal dedication to the service 
of Church Missionary Society. 

Even though there were great conspiracy against him 
and the Church Missionary Society in Calcutta, before 
the Indigo trial in 1861, considered expelling him from 
his service but this was stopped by the intervention of 
Lord Canning.^’ Reverend Frcre wrote to Mr. Wood, 
SecrjgJtary of State, London, about Long that “Though 
sincere and honest. Long was a narrow-minded partisan 
who had seen little of the world and that entirely from 
an ultra-Irish Protestant point of view*'" so he may be 
cxccused *by cautioning to leave politics to secular people^ 
and a wholetimer in his missionary service. 


47. Kliag, E. 6. The Blu^ MtBiny, Illiona. 1994. 
4.S Ibid. 



INTRODUdTlON BY TH® BtolTOR iiil/ 

From 1840-62 and 1866-1872 Long way in India. This 
was a time when the country saw many ups and down. 
He was connected with every development work then 
and was equally liked by the rich and the poors, sophis- 
ticated and unsophisticated people alike. 

It was for his intimate knowledge about the people of 
his area of study, scholars like Max-Muller and Monicr 
Williams sought his help. Long complied with their 
requests with a smile in his face. 

VII 

Conclusion 

From the above discussion it is clear that Rev. James 
Long loved Calcutta, Galcuttans and the people of rural 
Bengal and India because he was a great humanitarian. 
Although he was entrusted with a number of works for 
the administration as well as for the missionaries, he did 
social work out of his own interest. He also collected a 
large amount of folklorological materials out of zeal 
which he thought was necessary for the spread of educa- 
tion. Thus he rendered the work o! an unofficial librarian. 
He rendered social works in his leisure hours or after 
completing the scheduled works of the Mission. He re- 
ceived patronization of the powers and missionaries along 
with the co-operation and assistance of the natives for 
many years. But after the libel suit, in 1861, a large num- 
ber of his friends, both Indian and foreign, withdrew their 
support and co-operation to him. This pained him the 
most. So he wrote a pamphlet ^‘Strike But Hear” in 1862. 
In order to keep all informed : about indigo affairs, he 
left India for London in 1862 and stayed there up to 
1866. He could plead his case successfully, yet there were 
some who said, as a priest Long should not be involved 
in the local politics as he had done by the publication of 
the English translation of ‘*Nil Darpan’’. 

As many other works of Long the present book is also 
remarkably useful and a sound piece of work. Consider- 



iili OALOtTTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 

ing usual standard of the book it can be said that it is^ 
a distinct contribution of knowledge. Long could do sa 
partly due to bis close acquaintance with the place and 
the people of his study and partly of his ability in 
selecting from the mass of materials what are important. 
Long tried his best to establish his stand. But his 
opposition was strong enough to ridicule him since 1861. 
Since the influential group of the powers was anti-Long^ 
the socalled natives whose opinion would have matter 
then, did not side with him. As a result he had not 
received his due. It is high time when we should assess the 
role of such missionaries and foreigners as Long who 
rendered valuable service for the cause of India. 

He was concerned with the natives. So he had to 
write the history of Calcutta and Calcuttans. He was 
not only the ‘father of sociology in India’ as has been 
said, but also a ‘pioneer scholar of folklore’ and the 
‘father of library science’ as well. 

In short, he set out to give an account not only of 
the social condition of the natives, but also to give back- 
ground of the struggle of the natives with the then 
powers. He, therefore, continued to set before his country- 
men a picture of India, its various problems, customs 
and backgrounds for their having an idea of real India. 
As a writer, he received tribute from many and as a 
humanitarian, or an educator he received praise from 
natives and of his countrymen alike. His style of writing 
is noted for its originality, simplicity as well as its 
naturalness which will be evident from the pages ahead. 

""^e died on March 23, 1887 at London when he was 
73 years of age, when he was fairly old indeed ! 



INTRODUCTION BY THE BpiTOR IL 

Among the many writings of Reverend James Long, 
we have been able to locate the following. We regret 
for ommission^ if any. 


A. PROVERBS 

1. Bengali Proverbs, Calcutta, 1851. 

2. Two Thousand Bengali Proverbs Illustrating Native Life 
and Feelings, Calcutta, 1868. 

3. Prohad Mala or the wit of Bengali riots as shown 
in their Proverbs, Calcutta, 1869. 

4. Three Thousand Bengali Proverbs and Proverbial Say 
ings Illustrating Native Life and Feelings Among Riots and 
Tenants and Women^ Calcutta, 1872. 

5* Oriental Proverbs in their Relation to Folklore, History, 
Sociology, with suggestions for their Collections, Interpretations, 
ed. M. P. Saha, Calcutta, 1956, first cdn. 1875. 

6. Europe and Asia Khandastha Prohad Mala : Proverbs of 
Europe and Asia Translated into Bengali, Calcutta, 1868. 

7. Eastern Proverbs and Emblems Illustrating Old Truth, 
London, 1881. 

8 . Russian Proverbs, Illustrating the social condition of the 
peasants and women in Russia, Calcutta, 1868, a booklet. 

9. Proverbs : English and Celtic, with their Eastern Rela* 
Hons, read at the meeting of the Folk-Lore Society, London 
and printed in Folklore Record, III, part 1, 1880. 

10. ‘‘Popular Bengali Proverbs illustrating the social 
condition and^opinion of the riots, working classes, and 
women of Bengal.*’ (Transc. of Bengal Social Science 
Association, 1868, pt. II.), Calcutta 1868. 

B. SOCIOLOGY 

11. “Notes and Queries suggested by a visit to Orissa 
in January, 1859,’^ Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 
.XXVIII, 1859. 

12. “English Ideas, Indian adaptation,’^ Calcutta 
Bedew, XXX, No. 59. 



L 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


13. **Thc Third Annual Report of the Family Literary 
Club, with the third Annual Address/’ Calcutta, 1860. 

14. Bengali Peasant Boys, London, 1875. 

15. Village Communities in Russia and India, a leaflet 
Calcutta, 1870. 

16. The Banks of the Bhagirathi, Calcutta, 1860 
(reprinted in “Human Events” May, June, July, 1973 
and included in the present book ). 

17. Calcutta and Bombay in their social aspects, Calcutta, 
1870. 

18. “Calcutta in the Olden Time — its localities,” 
Calcutta Review, V. 18, No. 36 (reprinted in “Human 
Events,” Oct., Nov. & December, 1973 and included in the 
present book). 

19. “Calcutta in the olden time— its people” Calcutta 
Review, V. 35, no. 69 ( reprinted in ‘‘Human Events” in 
August-September, 1973 and included in the present book , 

20. “Grand Trunk Road, its localities,” Calcutta 
Review, V. 21, no, 41. 

21. Central Asia and British India, 1865. 

22. Kirlops Fables translated from Russian, 1869. 

23. Scripture Truth in Oriental Dress, 1872. 

24. The Eastern question inits Bangla-Indian aspect,l877 . 

25. Christian Instructor, Calcutta (n. d,). 

26. Questions of Natural History, Calcutta ( n.d. ) 

27. Life of Mohammad, Calcutta (n,d.). 

28. Bengali Etymology, Calcutta (n.d.). 

29. Selections from Unpublished records of Government 
1748-67, Calcutta, 1869. 

^ 30. Peeps into the Social life of Calcutta a Century ago, 
Calcutta : Bengal Social Science Association, 1868. 

31. Notes of a tour from Calcutta to Delhi, 1853. 

32. “Five hundred Questions on social condition of 
Natives of Bengal.” Report presented to the sociological 
section of the Bethune Society, appeared flrst in the Frocee<» 
dings of the Bethune Society for Sessions 1859-60, 1860-61, 
Calcutta, 1862. Republished in Journal of Asiatic 



INTRODUOnON BY THE EDITOR 


Li 


II, 1866, re-issued from Calcutta by Indian Publications 
in 1966, ed. by M, P. Saha with an introduction by Sankar 
Sen Gupta. This was published with slight alteration in 
the title as ^'500 questions on the subjects requiring inves- 
tigation in the social condition of the People of India.** 

33. Selected Papers (Selected by Rev. J. Long) : Ed. 
with an introduction and explanatory notes by M. P. 
Saha, Calcutta, 1965. 

34. ^‘Calcutta and Bombay in their Social Aspects,** 
(Transc. of Bengal Social Science Association), Calcutta, 
1870. 

35. ‘‘The Social Condition of the Mohammadans of 
Bengal” {in the Transactions of the Bengal Social Science 
Association, Vol. Ill, Part I, 1869), Calcutta, 1869. 

C. LIBRARY SCIENCE 

36. A Descriptive Catalogue of Bengali WorkSy Calcutta 
Sanders, Cones & Co. 1855. 

37. A Hand Book of Bengal Missions in Connexion with 
the Church of England together with an Account of General Edu- 
cational Efforts in North India, London, John Farquhar 
Shaw, 1848. 

38. A return of the names and writings of 515 persons 
connected with Bengali literature^ either as Authors or Translators 
of Printed works, and a Catalogue of Bengali Newspapers and 
Periodicals which have issued from the Press from the year 1818 
to 1855 ( Selections from the Records of the Bengal Govt. 
1855, No. XXII), Calcutta, 1855. 

39. Returns relating to the Bengali Language in 1857 with 
a li%t of the native Presses, the Books printedy their price and 
character with a Notice of the conditions of the Vernacular Presses 
of Bengal and Statistics of the Bombay and Madras Presses 
( Selections from the Records of the Bengal Govt., 1859. 
No. XXXII ), Calcutta, 1859. 

D. MISCELLANEOUS 

40. ^^Analysia of the Bengali poem Rajmala, or 



Lii OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 

Chronicles of Tripura/* Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal^ 
XIX, 1850. 

41. Analysis of Raghu Vansa, a Sanskrit poem of 
Kalidas.*’ Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal^ XXI, 1852. 

42. “The Indigenous Plants of Bengal with Notes on 
peculiarities in their structure, functions, uses in Medicine, 
Domestic Life, Arts and Agriculture/* Journal of Indian 
Agricultural Society^ IX, 1857, & X, 1859. 

43. Strike But Hear, Calcutta, 1861. ( Published in 
connection with NiUDarpan case). 

44. “Unpublished Records of the Government*’ first 
published 1869, republished in 1973 by Farma K. L. 
Mukhopadhyay, ed. with extra notes, glossary etc. by 
M. P. Saha, Calcutta, 1973. 

45. Table of Comparative Philosophy shewing speci- 
mens of the effinity of the Greek, Latin and English 
Languages, with Sanskrit, Persian, Russian, Celtic, Web 
Lithunian, German, Hebru and Anglo Saxon, Journal of 
Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1843. 

E. EDITOR 

46. Editor, Nil Darpan or the Indigo Planting Mirror, 
Eng. tran. cd. and pub. by J. Long, Calcutta, 1861 

47. “William Adam’s Report on Vernacular Educa- 
tion In Bengal And Behar, 1835-38”, ed. by J. Long. 

48. Editor, Satyarnava, a Bengali Monthly Journal. 
Estd. in July 1850. (Converted to bi-monthly — six times 
a year — in 1852). The journal ceased to exist in 1855. It 
vfm devoted to Christian religion, thoughts and ideas. 

Monograph Association of India, 

Calcutta, June 11, 197 f 



The Banks of the Bhagirathi 


The question of statistics is one that has engaged of 
late years the attention of some of the most scientific 
minds in England, France, and Germany ; in England a 
Statistical Society is in active operation and publishes a 
Journal since 1837. Statistics are now classed as a science 
and as such occupy a place in the list of subjects that 
come before the British Association ^ in France the 
Archives of Government are thrown open to the resear- 
ches of the members of La Societe de Geographie, a body 
which has contributed more to the advancement of the 
science of Geographical Statistics than any other through- 
out the world. But in India how different is the case ; 
it would, at times at least, almost seem to be as easy to 
get access to the records of the Inquisition as to many of 
the Statistical documents of the Bengal Government, 
which are often permitted to become the food of white 
ants, or perhaps to be sold in the Calcutta Bazars as waste 
paper, while they are virtually sealed to the investigation 
of the learned ? Yet, in spite of every such discourage- 
ment, much light has been thrown on the History of 
India by individuals. 

We feel strongly that the present is the time for 
collecting information on the condition of India — 'Hindu 
Society is in a transitional state— the old Pandits and 
Natives whose heads are stored with traditional lore, 
are passing away, and theijr successors feel little interest 



2 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


in the past local events of India — unless therefore, ‘‘these 
fragments from the wreck of time” be preserved in print, 
we shall lose one means of noting the progress of the 
natives of India. Todd’s Rajasthan, Maloolm’s Central 
India, and the Mackenzie Miss., compiled at a period 
when Central India was in a transition state, have 
snatched from oblivion a number of valuable facts, which 
will serve hereafter as landmarks to indicate the march of 
improvement among the Rajput and South Indian Tribes. 

In former numbers of this Review two papers appear- 
ed, “Notes on the banks of the Hugly,” which gave an 
account of the places between Calcutta and Chinsura ; 
we propose continuing the “Note” as far as Suti near 
the mouth of the Bhagirathi, with the exception of 
Chinsura, Hugly and Bandel. Chinsura with its Dutch 
associations and Hugly with its stirring events in days of 
yore, afford ample materials for a distinct article ; Bandel 
we have noticed in “The Portuguese in North India,” 
The Banks of the river between Tribeni on the South 
and Gaur on the North teem with local associations of 
various kinds — Tribeni, famous as a place of pilgrimage 
since the days of Pliny — Satgan, a grand emporium of 
trade in the time of the Romans — Ghoshpara, the cradle 
of the Karta Bhojas — Dumurda, notorious in the annals 
of dacoity, Sukhasagar and the river encroachments — 
Chagda, once infamous for human sacrifices and dacoity — 
Sibpur, formerly a residence of the illustrious Raja 
Krishna Chandra Ray — Guptapara famous for its 
monkey^ and Brahmans — Santipur, the strong-hold of 
Ghosains — Kalna, with its trade and temples — Dhoba, and 
its sugar manufactory — Nadiya, in old times the capital 
of Bengal and still a Brahmanical metropolis — Agradip, 
the scene of a famous mela — Katwa, the port of 
Birbhum, well-known in the days of the Mahratta~Plasi, 
the Indian Marathon — Rangamati, with spur of the 
Birbhum hills— Behrampur, 80 years ago the frontier 
Cantonment of the Bast India Gompany— Kasim Bazar, 



THB BANKS OV THB BHAOIBATHI 


3 


the former seat of the English, French, and Dutch trade — 
Murshidabad, and all its recollections connected with 
the Mussalman dynasty, — Jangipur, famous for its silk 
trade — Suti, where Mir Kasim met his defeat and his 
visions of independence vanished and Gaur the metro- 
polis of Bengal, long before the days of Alexander. 

To the mere stranger the banks of the Bhagirathi 
present little calculated to afford interest ; — so would the 
plain of troy to the person ignorant of Grecian history : 
but for those who love to dwell on the past, there are few 
parts of India, except Rajputana, which arc crowded with 
a scries of more interesting associations. The trade carried 
on by the Romans during the Hindu dynasty of Lakhmana- 
sena — the scenes where British ascendancy was established 
in this country — the influence of Mahommedan sway, the 
development of the resources of this country by Indigo, 
Silk and Sugar factories, the former prevalence of gang 
robbery ; — ideas connected with these and kindred subjects 
crowd on the mind of the intelligent traveller in passing 
various places on the banks of the Bhagirathi. In conse- 
quence of the local associations he has called up. Sir W. 
Scott has given ‘'a charm to Scottish scenes and barren 
heaths’'. Dr. Johnson has made the often quoted remark, 
in which he condemns the man whose patriotism would 
not glow on the plains of Marathan, or piety grow warm 
amid the ruins of Iona, In India where Europeans gene- 
rally feel so little interest in the country, know so little of 
its past history, and sympathise so little with the natives, 
it is specially important that the principle of local assc- 
ciation should as far as possible be called forth. We must 
know something of the past history of a people in order 
to understand their present condition — what a stimulus 
did the recollections of Grecian History afford some years 
ago to the exertions of philanthropists in the cause of the 
modern Greeks, who were crushed under the yoke of 
Turkish tyranny. We trust the progress of English educa- 
tion and Christian Missions along the banks of the Bhagi- 



4 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 


rathi during the next fifty years, will afford a brilliant 
contrast to the gloomy recollections of past tiihes — to the 
profligate rule of Kulinism — to Satis, Infanticide— Musal- 
man despotism and Hindu stagnation of thought. 

The banks of the Bhagirathi are likely to afford scenes 
of the noblest triumphs to missionary and educational 
operations, because the principle of concentration and 
mutual co-operation will be carried out, by a chain of 
missionary and educational posts at Hugly connected 
with the London Missionary Society ^ Ghoshpara with the 
Established Presbyterian Church ; Kalna with the Free 
Church of Scotland ; Nadiya and Krishnaghur with the 
Church Missionary Society ; Katwa with the Baptist ; and 
Berhampur with the London Missionary Society. 

Besides Herber’s Journal and ‘‘Robert’s Scenes” there 
are scarcely any journals of travellers worth notice on 
Bengal ; in a recent work, “Bacon’s First Impressions,” it 
is stated, that after leaving Barrackpur “a few hours track- 
ing brought us to Serampore” ; the author gives a drawing 
of a fakir’s serai on the banks of the river near Hugly with 
a hill in the vicinity ! This resembles Carne’s description of 
Kiernander, the first Protestant Missionary to Bengal, 
visiting his mountain villages near Calcutta ! No Sanskrit 
work gives any topographical information respecting those 
localities, except the Sri Bhagavat and some other Puranas 
which notice Tribeni, and the course of the Ganges. 
Arrian, Pliny and Strabo write incidently of a few places. 
As for authorities on these subjects little information can 
be giv^^ since in the Bengali language no book of any 
description was compiled before A.D. 1500. The poem of 
Kobi Kankan was written in Bengali 300 years ago (the 
author lived in Burdwan and is said to have been born 
at Damini near Tarakeswar in Burdwan ; Kirti ^Bas is 
also said to have been born in Burdwan). It describes the 
journey of a merchant from his own residence 150 miles 
from the sea, down the Bhagirathi to the port in which he 
embarked for Ceylon, he enumerates the places at which 



dfHB BANi^S Ot THE BHAOIBATBI 


5 


he lagoed on the banks of the river. The Sandcsabali 
and Timir Nasak notice a few towns ; but the written or 
printed materials are very scanty; ‘‘the Musalman invaders 
of Bengal thought Hindu writings to be full of mantras or 
charms, and they deemed them harm or sinful, and not 
worthy to be seen ; hence on entering a town in Bengal 
they burnt every ancient Mss. as well as Hindus also were 
in the practice where invaded, to destroy every thing 
which was of value to the invaders and particularly all 
“Mss. that would give information of the country hence 
no Mss. exist which give any information of Gaur or Pali- 
bathra. The Hindu writings were of an anti-historical 
character. The remarks of Taylor in his “Historical 
Manuscripts” are applicable here, — “Generally speaking, 
Indian princess, purely such as ditinguished from foreign 
invaders, have been less addicted to warring with each 
other, than those of almost any other ancient nation. 
Hence, in a great degree, arises the paucity of materials 
for Indian history ; but, happily periods most barren of 
historical incident, have always been most prosperous for 
the people. We must therfore have recourse, occasionally 
to oral testimony and current traditions, which are the 
only sources in the absence of written testimony, and which 
have been resorted with so much success by Tod in his 
Rajasthan ; the discoveries however of Ventura in the topes 
of the Punjab : of Princep in Pali Medals of Hodgson in 
Nepal, and of Remusat in Chinese Mss. give hope that 
future researches may throw a flood of light on the anti- 
Muhammedan history of Bengal ; a translation of some 
Persian Mss. mention in Stewarts Catalogue would afford 
information of Bengal History ; even legends are of value 
for as Wilson remarks, “Hindu tales arc faithful records 
of the state of popular belief many ages ago.” Legendary 
lore is compared by Troyer to a chronometer, which 
though it gives not the true time, yet presents errors which 
we know how to correct. Dr. Buchanan, though he under- 
took at the command of the Marquess of Wellesley, a 



6 


OALOIJTTA ANl) ITS NEIOHBOUBaOoD 


survey of Eastern India, which occupied him seven years 
and cost the Government £30,000, yet has not (bought it 
beaneath his notice to embody in the report he presented 
to the Government the legends and local traditions of the 
districts he passed through. 

We name this paper ‘The banks of the Bhagirathi’, 
though some Europeans call the river as far as Nadiya the 
Hugly, — but Hugly is a modern name, given to it since 
the town of Hugly rose into importance : the natives, call 
it Bhagirathi, because they say it was the channel Bhagi- 
rathi cut in bringing the Ganges from the Himalaya to 
Ganga Sagar. This name recalls what is believed to be a 
fact — that the Ganges itself formerly ran by Katwa Tri- 
beni, and not as it does now into the Padma; our reasons 
are — the natives attribute no sancity to the waters of the 
Padma, thinking the Bhagirathi to be the true bed of the 
river, hence the water following by Bishop’s College is not 
esteemed holy, as they say that the site of Tolly’s Nala 
was the ancient bed — there are no places of pilgrimage 
along the banks of the Padma, while on the Bhagirathi 
and Tribeni, Sagar, Nudiya and Agradip. Dr. Buchanan 
states on the subject “I think it not unlikely that on the 
junction of the Kosi with the Ganges, the united mass of 
water opened the passage now called Padma, and the old 
channel of the Bhagirathi from Songti(Suti) to Nudiya was 
then left comparatively dry. In this way we may account 
for the natives considering that insignificant channel as the 
proper continuation of their sacred river, as they univer- 
sally do, a manner of thinking that unless some such extra- 
ordinary^ange had taken place, would have been highly 
absurd” — the names of places near the Bhagirahi ending 
in dwipa island, danga upland, daha abyss, sagar sea, 
seem to indicate that a large body of water formerly flowed 
near them. 

We begin our notice with the Saraswati Khal, which 
flows by Tribeni down to Satgan, and which in former 
days was a mighty stream, when the Bhagirathi, instead of 



BANitS OF T«B BHAOIEATHl .S? 

flowing as now past Hugly rolled its mighty waters down 
by Satgan. Rennel states, *‘In 1566 the Satgan river 
was capable of bearing small vessels and I suspect that its 
then course, after passing^Satgan was by way of Adampur, 
Omptah and Tamluk : and that the river called the old 
Ganges was a part of its course, and received that name, 
while the circumstance of the change was fresh in the 
memory of the people. The appearance of the country 
between Satgan and Tamluk countenances such an 
opinion’’. The banks of the Saraswati and Tribeni formed 
the ancient boundary of the kingdom of Orissa, extending 
as far west as Bishenpur in the time of the Ganga Vansa 
princes from the 10th to the 14th Cent A.D. Akbar 
annexed Tribeni to the Bengal government^and separated 
it from the powerful kingdom of Orissa or Kalinga, which 
flourished at the same period as the Ujayin and Malwa 
monarchies, and was next to Magadh in greatness, stretch- 
ing from the Godavary towards the Ganges ; the king of 
Kalinga in Pliny’s time could bring into the field 100,000 
foot; at the beginning of the Christian era. Salivahan ruled 
the country between the Godavary and the Nermada. 
By progress of emigration and conquest the Orissan nation 
carried their name and language over vast space of terri- 
tory, including, besides Orissa proper, part of Bengal, and 
Telingana”. In 1243 the raja^ of Jangipur, 35 miles N. E. 
of Katak, besieged Gaur the capital of Bengal. The 
Orissan monarchy sunk into decay about the same time 
that the Saraswati river, owing to a silting process, dried 
up ; in 1845 an inundation tore up the soil in the bed of 
the river near Satgan and exposed to view the masts of a 
ship. In RennePs Maps, drawn over 70 years ago, (he 
Saraswati joins a river which flows by Duma, Nishipur 
and Ohanditala into the Hugly at Sankral near Bishop's 
College : this probably was the old bed of the Bhagirathi, 
which passed from Sankral up to the site of the ToJly’s Nala, 
via Gurca, Barripur and Rajganj to Diamond Harbour, 
SO on to Ganga Sagar 5 the ground west of Hapra and 



8 


CALCUTTA AiTD ITS NBIGHBOtJBHOOD 


from thence on the Hugly is low'and marshy^ indicating the 
course of a former river. Ptolemy however states that the 
Saraswati flowed into the mouth of the Jellasore river : this 
view corresponds with that of RennePs and may be recon- 
ciled with our’s by supporting a branch from the Saraswati 
i.e., Ganges to have joined the Damuda or Riipnarayan. 

Satgan, the royal emporium of Bengal from the time of 
Pliny down to the arrival of the Portuguese in this country, 
has now scarcely a memorial of its ancient greatness left ; 
it has furnished a native proverb indicative of its fall, 
^'Compare not yourself to a man of Satgan’'. Wilford 
thus describes it, ‘‘Ganges Regia, now Satgang, near Hugly. 
If is a famous place of worship^ and was formerly the 
residence of the kings of the country, and said to have been 
a city of an immense size, so as to have swallowed up one 
hundred villages, as the name imports : however, though they 
write its name Satgan, I believe it should be Satgram or 
the seven villages, because there were so many consecrated 
to the seven Rishis and each of them had one appropriated 
to his own use”. Satgan is said to have been one of the 
resting places of Bhagirath. One of the Puranas states 
that Pryabasta, king of Kanauj had 7 sons, who lived in 
Satgan i.e., Saptagram, and whose names were given to 
seven villages, viz. Agnidra, Romanaka, Bhopisanta, Sau- 
rabanan, Barra, Sabana, and Dutimanta, they were munis. 
Kusagrass is said not grow in Satgan, as it was cursed by 
the seven rishis. Dr. Barrows writes “that Satgaw is a great 
and noble city, though less frequented than Chittagong, 
on account of the port not being so convenient for the 
entrance and departure of ships'^ Purchas states it to be 
“a fair citie for a citic of the Moores, and very plentiful 
but sometimes subject to Patnaw*’. Fredericke, who 
travelled in Bengal 1670, and visited Satgan mentions 
that it “the merchants gather themselves together for their 
trade” : he describes a place called Buttor, “a good tide’s 
rowing before you come to Satgaw, from hence upwards 
the ships do not gO| because that ^upwards the river is 



tHB BAN&S OF THB BHAQtBATHl d 

very shallow and little water, the small ships go to Satgaw 
and there they lade”: he writes that “Buttor has an infinite 
number of ships and bazars ; while the ships stay in the 
season, they erect a village of straw houses, which they 
burn when the ships leave and build again the next season : 
in the port of Satgaw every year lade 30 or 35 ships great 
and small with rice, cloth of bombast of divers sorts, lacca, 
great abundance of sugar, paper, oil of zerzelinc and 
othe sorts of merchandize”. The Shah Jehan Namah, 
part of which is translated in Stewart’s Oriental Catalogue, 
mentions that ‘'while Bengal was governed by its own 
princes a number of merchants resorted to this place 
(Hugly) and having rendered this agreeable, obtained a 
piece of groud, and permisssion to build houses, in order to 
carry on their commerce to advantage ; in the course of 
time owing to stupidity and want of attention of the 
Governors of Bengal, a great number of Portuguese assem- 
bled here, who erected lofty and solid factories which they 
fortified with cannon, muskets, and other impliments of 
war’’ : he then states that the Portuguese settled at Hugly, 
“which drew in a short time all the trade from Satgan, 
which in consequence fell into decay.” In 1632, being 
made a royal port, all the public officers were withdrawn 
from Satgan which .soon sunk into ruin. The Mogul 
governor of Hugly brought a charge against the Portu- 
guese before Shah Jehan of “having drawn away the trade 
from the ancient port of Satgan”. The silling up of 
river there, was another causse of its decay : similarly we 
find that Kambay, which was a famous port when the 
Portuguese came to India, is now choked up owing to 
the sea having retired several leagues : it is said the 
Muguls deepened the present channel which flows in 
front of Hugly, and this would serve to draw oflF the 
current which before flowed down by Satgan. 

Warwick, a Dutch Admiral, notices that Satgan in 1667 
was a place of great trade for the Portuguese. The foun* 
dations of a fort built by the Musalmans remain near 



10 


OALOtJTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUBHOOI) 


Satgan bridge ; the fort was pulled down to build houses 
in the town. The old Dutch residents at Hugly ha^ their 
country seats at Satgan, and were in the habit of walking 
from Ghinsura in the middle of the day to it and returning 
after dinner. Near Satgan bridge stands an old temple 
in which is interred one of the officers of Shah Sufi. The 
people of Satgan were famed for wit and often contended 
for the palm of wit with the inhabitants of Mahmud 
Shah, in the neighbourhood. 

Opposite Tribeni at the mouth of the Saraswati Khal, 
stands a famous Mosque, containing the tomb of Jaffir 
Khan j it was once a Hindu temple. Jaffir Khan was the 
uncle of Shah Sufi, he was a zealous Musalman and made 
proselyte of Rajah Man Nriput. He was killed in a battle 
fought with Rajah Bhudea. Jaffir’s son conquered the 
Rajah of Hugly and married his daughter, who is buried 
with the precincts of the temple, and to this day Hindu 
votive offerings are presented at her tomb on Musalman 
festivals ; Jaffir Khan himself, though a Musalman, worship- 
ed the Ganges. This temple must be at least 500 years 
old, as Shah Sufi came to Bengal A.D. 1340 (he fought a 
battle near Pandua, which rendered the country entirely 
subject to the Musalmans) ; the stones in it are very large, 
the temple was probably erected when the kingdom of 
Orissa was in its glory and stretched its sceptre as far as 
Tribeni, and when ships floated on the waters of the 
Saraswati — across with a child can now leap. A civil 
servant at Hugly is said some years ago to have pulled 
down part 2 ^ this temple to make a ghat. 

South of this temple is the village of Bansbaria or 
Bansbati i.e., the place of bambus, famous for the temple 
of the goddess Hansheshari, with its 13 pinnacles and 13 
images of Shiva, erected 50 years ago by Rani Sankari 
Dasi, the wife of Nrisinga Deva Ray, a Zemindar : it cost 
a lakh of rupees, and had a house there surrounded with 
a trench and four pieces of cannon mounted dd it ; when 
Mahrattas came near Tribeni the people fled to this house 



Mb banks of the bhagMaMi 11 

for protection. On the festival of Hansheshari the Rani 
used to invite Pandits from all the neighbouring country, 
Calcutta and Nadiya. This temple occupies 15 acres. 

At Bansbaria there were formally 12 or 14 Tolas, where 
Nyaya or logic was read, but Sanskrit studies arc on the 
decline there. The Tatwabodhini Sabha had formerly a 
flourishing English School of 200 boys at Bansbaria esta- 
blished in 1843, but some of the boys embracing Vedantism, 
their parents became alarmed lest they should forsake 
Puranism and they withdrew many of them ; the members 
of the Sabha thought that Bansbaria being an eminent seat 
of Hindu learning presented a more favourable opening for 
schools than Calcutta ; but Puranism and Vedantism being 
antagonistic the success of the school has been retarded. 
A tiger was seen near it in 1830 ; he killed four ryots j old 
persons still remember the time when the Satgan district 
was infested with tigers and when rewards used to be 
offered from the Collector’s office at Hugly for killing 
them. Tarachand, a native Christian, resided at Bans- 
baria, he was led to inquire respecting Christianity from 
simply reading a New Testament. The first native Church 
under a native minister was formed at Bansbaria under 
Tarachand, was a well-informed man, spoke English, 
French, and Portuguese with fluency. 

On the opposite side of the river facing Bansbaria is 
Malikbag, of which Ramkomul Sen gives the following 
account in his able Preface to his Bengali dictionary : 
•*The Musalman invaders of the west of Hindustan, who 
afterwards established themselves on throne of Delhi, 
considered this country (Bengal) to be Dojakh, or an infer- 
nal region, and whenever any of the Amirs or Courtiers 
were found guilty of capital crimes, and the rank of the 
individuals did not permit their being beheaded, while 
policy at the same time rendered their removal necessary, 
they were banished to Bengah Of those individuals 
one, named Mullik Kassim, had his residence immediately 
west of Hugly, where there is a Hut or market, still 



12 


OALdUTTA AND ITS NllIQflBODBNOOD 


held, which goes by his name. Ahmid Beg was another 
person of that description ; his estate is still in exis- 
tence; opposite to Bansbaria ; and there are a Hut, 
Gunge, or mart, and a Khal or creek, still called after 
his name ; Meer Beg also had a fort, with a mansion 
opposite to fiugly, which is called Mir Beg ka Gur.” 
These lands were given on a kind of military tenure; as the 
Government of the Afgans in Bengal, bore a close resem- 
blance to the feudal system of the Goths. The air and 
water of that part of Bengal were then considered so bad 
as to lead almost to the certain death of the criminal. 
The whole of Malikbag was formerly a large garden, but 
the trees have been cut down for fuel. In the time of 
Malik the site of Scrampore was a jungle. The site of the 
city of jessore, which is considerably to the north of 
Malikbag, was, when founded 300 years ago by Sivananda 
Majumdar, the uncle of Rajah Pratapaditya, ‘‘a forest on 
the borders of the sea.” A little to the south of Malikbag 
is Halishar, famous for the Smriti Colleges, established 
there by Rajah K* Ray of Nudiya ; he assigned to them 
endownments of land, the Rajah is said to have come hcie 
to visit Balaram Tarkabhushana, a very learned pandit; 
who would not enter a Sudra’s house, nor even take money 
from his hand, nor receive a present on the banks on the 
Ganges: the Rajah saw a Kumbhakar or potter at the 
place and asked him in Sanskrit, Kaatam (who are you), 
the man replied, Kumbhakara Ahang (I am a potter). The 
Rajah was surprised that a low person knew Sanskrit. He 
said it is a fine place, and he made a bazar in it called 
Kumarhaffa, i.e., the bazar of the potter. Great quantities 
of broken pottery are dug up, the pandit still call Halishar 
by the name of Kumarhatta. Balaram Tarkbhusan, a pan- 
dit skilled in Nyaya, lived there. There arc still twelve 
Sanskrit Colleges in Halishar and its neighbourhood. Law 
and Logic arc the chief subjects taught. Halishar is noted 
for its drunkards, and particularly for drunken women : 
one reason ascribed for itjs, that many Brahmans from 



THE BANKS OP THE BHAGIRATHI 


13 


the East of Bengal reside here, and follow the Tantra 
system which encourages drunkenness. At Halishar, Ram 
Komul Sen had his country seat ; he was of low origin, his 
father was a native doctor ; Professor Wilson patronised 
him and gave him an employment in his printing office, 
afterwards in the mint, where he studied English and 
Sanskrit, and subsequently became Assistant Secretary to 
the Sanskrit College, Halishar formed a Zillah last cen- 
tury : it has a population of about 30,000. 4,000 of whom 
are of the hhadraloh or Hindu gentry. 

To the North of Malikbagflows the Jamuna river, called 
by Ptolemy, the Diamuni, ‘*the blue daughter of the sun”, 
by Jaydeva it is named the Kal Yamany, because Kanya 
destroyed the Hydra Kalya which infested it : the villages 
along the Jamuna are scattered and thinly populated, 
Gropses are thrown into it in order to float into the Bhagi- 
rathi, which they sometimes do after the lapse of a year. 
In 1813 the Government survey fixed the Jamuna as the 
Northern boundary of the Sunderbans. The Jamuna 
joints the Ishamati (so called from its being noted for its 
ikhhu sugarcanes). The Jamuna, though now a Khal, was 
a large river at the period when the whole stream of the 
Ganges flowed down by Tribeni and along with the Sara- 
swati formed the Dakhin Prayag ; the ghat manjis on the 
route from Orissa to Tribeni are guilty of great oppression. 
To the North of the Jamuna is Ghoshpara, famous for 
being the birth place of the Karta Bhoja sect. 

We now came to the far famed Tribeni, the Muktabeni 
of Bengal, as the Tribeni at Prayag is the Yukta Beni. 
Tribeni is said in the Padma Parana to give virtue and 
salvation to all those residing near it ; a famous mela is 
held here in January : in 1838 over 100,000 persons attend- 
ed it ; of these 24,000 were from Orissa. The Siva Purana 
states that the place where the Ganges unites with the 
Jamuna is capable of destroying the sin of murdering a 
Brahman, particularly in the month of Magha. Stavori- 
nus, art old Dutch traveller of the middle of last ccnturyi 



14 


0AL0I7TTA AND ITS NBIOHAOIJBnOOD 


described the mela as attended by an immense concourse, 
who carried home Ganga water for the use of irheir rela- 
tives. Tribeni is one of the four Samajia or places famous 
for Hindu learning ; the others are Nadiya, Santipur and 
Guptapara. Tribeni was formerly noted for its trade : 
Pliny mentions that the ships assembling near the Goda- 
vary sailed from thence to Cape Palinurus, then to Ten 
tigale, opposite Fulta, than to Tribeni and lastly to Patna. 
Ptolemy also notices Tribeni. The Portuguese, Ptolemy, 
and the natives now call it Tripina, but incorrectly. 
There were 30 tolas in Tribeni ; Jagannath Pandit lived 
here in the time of Lord Cornwallis ; he took an active 
part in the publication of the Hindu Laws. Some years 
ago a Sanyasi who lived for 50 years near the bazar, was 
attacked by dakoits ; 2000 Rupees were stolen from him, 
and his ears were cut off. A bridge was built over the 
Saraswati by Prankissen of Chinsura, but it was nearly 
destroyed in the great storm of 1242 B.S. by an over-flow 
of the Damuda. Jagannath presided 50 years ago over a 
large college in Tribeni : he was considered the most learn- 
ed man in Bengal, and died at the age of 109 years. Seve- 
ral persons have become rich here from selling the clothes 
of the dead. Stavorinus writes in 1763 that about 3 miles 
north of Tribeni near the river, he came to a wood, in 
which was ^^an ancient large building of large square stones 
as hard as iron, 30 feet long and 20 broad, the walls 13 or 
14 feet high, no rood, 3 tombs of black stone which 
were Persian characters.’^ The Bengalis believe it was 
built by ajpaagician in one night without the assistance of 
any mortal. In June 1837 an alligator 12 feet long with the 
arm of an adult female in his belly, was caught here at 
the ghat. 

Nya Serai or the New Serai, is situated on a bank of 
the Damuda river, called the Kanah Nadi ; its mouth is so 
choked up with sand at Salimpur that it is unable to 
receive much of the Damuda, and is therefore called the 
Kanah Nadi ; attempts have been unsuccessfully mad^ to 



THE BANES O? THE BHAGIBATHI 


15 


cut through the sand, but it has filled up again ; it has been 
proposed to cut a canal to draw the water from Bundipur 
to Ball Khal or to make a canal from Gopalnagar toBidya- 
bati. A bridge was built here by a Zemindar ; but a few 
years ago it was washed away by the innundation in 1839, 
it was ordered to be rebuilt, by the court of Directors. 
Through Nya Serai lies the line of traffic to Burdwan and 
the Jangal Mahals. Stavorinus in 1768 describes the 
country about Nya Serai thus, ^^We met with pleasant 
plains arable and pasture lands, intermixed with groves of 
cocoanut, mango and other trees : the sugarcane was like- 
wise cultivated in many places and flourished excellently.’' 
Stavorinus walked from Nya Serai to Tribeni, — *^the way 
first led through a wood which was filled with the notes of 
birds and afterwards over a lovely plain mostly consisting 
of pasture grounds.’’ The Banks of the river between Nya 
Serai and Serampore are mostly elevated, which shows it 
was a remnant of the ancient elevation of the land like 
that at Rangamati. There are a Miinsif at Nya Serai and 
a Ghokey station for the Salt Department. The Nya Serai 
Khal is named in Rennel’s Maps as the old Damuda ; on 
it is Magra, so called from a goddess of that name ; it is on 
the high road to Lahore, has 4 talas, and furnishes quan- 
tities of sand fit for plastering. 

North of Nya Serai is the village, Damurdaha ; its affix 
daha, an abyss indicates, like Khal, Sagar, daha, — that 
it is alluvial land gained from the water. There is an 
English school here. A Zemindar Iswar Babu is said to 
have lived here 40 years ago and to have been in the habit 
of inviting travellers to his house at night and then strang- 
ling them while they slept ; a pilgrim discovered it at 
night and gave information to the thana at Bansbaria ; 
the Zemindar was arrested and hung ; men were found 
sunk in a tank near his house with stones tied round their 
necks. Many natives still are afraid to go in Damurdaha 
by boats* Dakoity reached its height in this neighbourhood 
^nd the KHshnaghur district, about 1807 ^ the dakoits bad 



16 


OALOTTTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


the village watchmen under their influence and used to 
go with the greatest indifferent to gallows : their cruelties 
were most atrocious, slashing with sabres, sc&rching all 
the skin off with blazing grass burning off the most tender 
parts of the body with oil and tow, violating girls, extort- 
ing confessions by rubbing hot irons over the body &c. 

On the opposite side of the river is Sukh Sagar, placed 
in Rennel’s Map a considerable distance from the river, 
which has of late made fearful encroachments and has 
left a vestige of the magnificent house of the Revenue 
Board that cost a lakh and a half originally. The Marquis 
of Cornwallis and suite, used often in the hot weather to 
retire to it, as it was the Government country seat before 
Barrakpur. The house of Mr. Barretto and a Roman Catho- 
lic Chapel erected by him in 1789, at a cost of Rs. 9000 
have also been washed away. Mr. Barretto was suspected 
by the natives, from his being a rich man, to have known 
the art of turning metals into gold. These encroachments 
of the river, together with Pal Chaudhuri, a rich Zemindar, 
making a bazar in Chagda, have led to the decay of 
Sukh Sagar, which owed much of its prosperity to Mr. 
Barretto who made many roads there planted with nim 
trees on both sides, which remain to this day : he had a 
rum distillery in 1792, as also Sugar works ; in his time the 
place was called Chota Calcutta. On Clive passing Sukh 
Sagar, a small battery there gave him a salute he imagin- 
ing it to be an enemy’s entrenchment, ordered it to be 
dismantled. On the courts being removed from Murshi- 
dabad to Calcutta in 1772, the Revenue Board was fixed 
there, a^t was thought more suitable than Calcutta, from 
being the country. Bissenpur, Srinagar and Bhagda 
near Sukh Sagar were noted formerly for dacoity. The 
Zemindary of Sukh Sagar belonged to Rajah R. C. Ray 
of Nudiya, who made a bazar in it ; there arc still remain- 
ing the ruins of several fine houses built in his time, he also 
erected a temple to Agru-Chandy in which sacrifices were 
offered. Frostcr in 1782 gives the following description of 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAGIRATHI 17 

Sukh Sagar : — ‘‘Sukh Sagar is a valuable and rising plan- 
tation, the property of Messrs Crofts and Lennox ; and 
these gentlemen have established at this place a fabric 
of white clothes, of which the Company provide an annual 
investment of two lakhs of rupees ; they have also founded 
a raw silk manufactory, which as it bears the appearance 
of increase and improvement, will, I hope, reward the 
industrious, estimable labors of its proprietors.'’ Apathshala 
was established by Government in 1845 ; a Zemindar gave 
as a school room a chaubarl, formerly built by Mr. Barretto 
to enable the Hindus to read thePuranas and Mahabharat. 
An English pay school was founded in 184f by the Munsif 
under the patronage of the Vedantists ; in 1846, at the 
annual examination 150 respectable babus were present* 
Pitambar Sing, an eminent native Christian convert, and 
a Sanskrit scholar, was stationed as a catechist, in 1802^ 
at Sukh Sagar, ‘‘a pretty large place and very populous 
neighbourhood” ; he was a match in argument for the 
pandits ; a tract was the instrument of his conversion. In 
1804 he left the place, on account of sickness, as also because 
of “his house being out of town and surrounded with 
robbers”. Bishop Heber writes in his Journal in 1824, 
saw (near Sukh Sagar) a sign of a civilized country, a gibbet 
with two men in chains on it, who were executed two years 
ago for robbery and murder in this neighbourhood. The 
district bears a bad name he remarks that Mr. Corric 
saw near it the prints of tigers’ feet ^ at Palpara, near 
Sukh Sagar, lived Nandakumar Vidyalankar, who was 
deeply versed in Nyaya and the Tantras, he published a 
book called Kularnuba : the river has washed away twelve 
bighas and a great part of Palpara; near it, is Monasapota, 
respecting which Ram Komul Sen relates the following 
legend “Bengal was once governed by Asurs, Demons^ 
one of whom called Sambarasura, was King of lower 
Bengal : he was killed by Pradyumna, the son of Krishna, 
and his corpse was thrown into pits near Sukh Sagar in 
—2 



18 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


Monasapota^ which was thence named Pradyumnahrad or 
Pradyumna’s pit. 

North of Sukh Sagar is Chagda (notofious for ghat 
murders) fabled to derive its name from Bhagirath, because 
when bringing the Ganges from the Himalaya to Ganga 
Sagar to water his forefather’s bones, he left the traces of 
his chariot wheel, chakra^ there* Chagda as well as Bans- 
baria and Ganga Sagar were formerly noted for human 
sacrifices by drowning ; the aged and children were thrown 
into the river; 1801 in November some pilots saw 11 
persons at Sagar throw themselves to sharks ; and that 
month, 29 persons were devoured by them ; it is still a 
famous place for burning the dead and for bathing ; 
corpses are brought there from all parts of the country, 
<)ftcn from great distances, when they become putrid ere 
they reach Chagda ; the persons carrying corpse arc not 
allowed to enter a house, must pay double farryfare, and 
must take fire with them as none will give it. Tavernier 
mentions seeing corpses brought to Chagda, from a place 
twenty days distance, all rotten and smelling dreadfully. 
It is singular that in former times and particularly near 
Calcutta, persons were burnt on the Western bank of the 
river, because the true channel was considered to be there 
as the river was said to have made a new channel on the 
Eastern side, this seems to favour an opinion held by some, 
that the Ganges is gradually tending to a more easternly 
direction. Chagda is the route taken by people North of 
Calcutta for Dhaka, and Assam via Jessore \ as the road ii 
better and higher than that via Baraset. A road has been 
made from Bangaon to Chagda 20 miles* planted with trees 
on botfi sides, by Kali Prasad Poddar of Jessore. As this 
Babu stands out conspicuously from his countrymen by 
his public spirit, we give the following notice of him. 
^‘He has indeed proved himself an example to many Roy 
and Chaudri Zemindars of greater opulence and higher 
respectability. Report of the Babu's liberality having 
been made by the Judge and Collector of the district, the 



THB BANKS 07 THB BHAaHtATHI 




Governor of Bengal has presented him with the title of 
Roy, and a Khetab consisting of a pair of rich shawls, a 
Xaba, and a crested turban embroidered with gold and 
pearls. On Monday, the 30th of March last (1846) the 
judge of the district invited the most respectable European 
and native gentlemen of the station, including Vakils and 
Muktiars and presented him with the honorary dress and 
a suitable address. On which the Babu felt himself much 
affected at the kindness of the British Government, and 
after returning his heartfelt thanks, gave four hundred 
Rupees to the Jessore Government School, one hundred 
Rupees to the Jessore Charitable Hospital, and three hun- 
dred Rupees to the beggars that crowded on the occasion. 
Afterwards, Mr. Seton Karr delivered an eloquent speech 
in eulogy of the Babu. He was followed by Roy Lokenath 
Bose and Babu Nilmadhub Ghosc, who all spoke to the 
same effect, after which the meeting dispersed. The 
following is a statement of the several liberal acts of the 
worthy Babu : 

1st. A staircase to the hill of Chundernath. 

2nd. A stone built Dhuramshala or alms-house at the 
Ghat Attara nullah. 

3rd. A brick-built Naght Mundir in the temple of 
Dhakshuri. 

4th. A brick-built bridge over the Dytolla Khah 

5th. A brick-built bridge over the Bhyrub Nadi at 
Nilgunge. 

6th. A Dhuramshala and a house of charity at 
Nilgunge. 

7th. A road from Bpngah to Chukra Dha on the banks 
of the Ganges extending over nearly twenty miles^ and 
planted on the both sides with trees. 

8th. A road from Chura Maukati to Agradip extend- 
ing over nearly 30 milest and planted on both sides with 
>t rees. 

9th. An iron bridge over the Kobotoka river at Jhikar- 
£ucha with the joint assistance of Government. 



20 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUIIHOOD 


10th, A brick-built bridge over the Betna river at 
Jadubpur. 

11th. A brick built bridge at Kaihtpur. 

12th. A brick built bridge at Naudanga Huridashpur’^ 

Chagda has been notorious for Ghat murders : there are 
various persons now living there, who have been taken 
to the river to die, but have recovered and are out- 
castes. Great numbers of people bathe here at the Baroni 
festival in March ; many persons come as far as from 
Orissa. The Baruari puja is celebrated with great pomp 
here, this puja was established in 1790 by a number of 
Brahmans of Guptapara, who formed an association to 
celebrate a puja not noticed in the Shastras ; it is named 
baruari, because they chose 12 members as a committee ; 
they collected subscriptions in the neighbouring villages, 
but this not being sufficient, they sent men into various 
parts of the country, and having obtained Rs. 7000 they 
celebrated the worship of Jagatdhatri Durga with such 
pomp, as to attract the rich to it from a distance of 100" 
mites around ; they procured the best singers in Bengal ; 
and spent the week in festivity : in consequence of the 
success of the first baruari, they determined to elebrate it 
annually which is done in various parts of Bengal, and 
particularly in Ula, Guptapara, Chagda, Shripur ; one-fifth 
of the money is devoted to the idol, the rest to singing and 
feasting. In 1845 an English school was established here, 
under the patronage of the Brahma Sabha, Stavorinus,. 
1786, writes ; ^'the village of Chagda, which gives its name 
to tBfe channel, stands a little inland, and there is a great 
weekly market or bazar here : the channel terminates^ 
about three Dutch miles inland, and on its right has many 
woods in which are tigers and other wild beasts ; on enter-^ 
ing the woods a little way, we soon met with the traces of 
tigers in plenty, and therefore we did not think it prudent 
to venture farther ; we met in the way the remains of a 
Bengali who had been torn in peices by a beast of prey/f 



THE BASXS OT THE BHAGIBATHI 


21 


Walking near Chagda when it was dark, Stavorinus was 
warned by the natives that there were many tigers who had 
their haunts near, and who in the evening went to 
repair to the river-side. In 1809, Hanif and eight other 
dakoits were hung here. In 1808 at 9 o’clock in the 
evening 45 dakoits attacked the house of a man in 
Chagda, took his brother and burned him with lighted 
torches and straw taken from the thatch of the house which 
was in the bazar ; they then rolled a bambu across his 
breast, he died the next day ; they were torturing him 
during 4 gharis : it was as light as day in the bazar from 
the blaze of the dakoits’ musalchis and torches ; they plun- 
dered eight houses besides in Chagda : one witness stated 
on the trial, ‘^the country is in the hands of the dakoits, 
they do not scruple to plunder in broad day-light.’’ In 
1809, one Ganga Ram Sirdar deposed before the magis- 
trate, to having been a dakoit since his twelfth year and to 
having committed dakoities to the number of thirty-six, 
east of Chagda, in the Jessore and Burdwan districts and 
paiticularly at Bagda ; in 1815 the dakoits in Burdwan used 
to go in great pomp to the villages under pretence of a 
wedding procession and then plundered them. In 1845 
an English school was opened here by an Indigo Planter 
of the neighbourhood : it is conducted by two students of 
the Chinsura College, and has about 40 boys in daily 
attendance. Chagda has two Sanskrit Colleges containing 
20 pupils, they study Hindu Law, under the tuition of two 
Professors of Law. There are 40 Brahman families in 
Chagda, in the bazar there are about 200 shops. 

The Matabhanga river lies north of Chagda ; it was 
formerly much deeper and was the channel of trade 
between the East of Bengal and Calcutta ; its banks 40 
years ago were infested by thieves and tigers. A survey 
was made of it in 1795, by Colonel Colebrookc, as govern- 
ment wished to keep it open all the year round ; it is 
sometimes dangerous to cross on acco^^mt of the torrents 
which suddenly come down. The Matabhanga has many 



22 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NIIOHBOUBHOOD 


interesting associations in connection with one of thc’ 
greatest men in Bengal, Rajah Krishna Chandrar^Ray of 
Nudiya ; an interesting life of him has been published at 
thc Scrampur Press, in very pure Bengali* At Anunda 
Dam, near thc Matabhanga, the Rajah had a fine Garden, 
and used often to go there to bathe ;:U is now over a mile 
inland Shibnibas, some distance up thc river, was the 
favourite residence of thc Rajah ^ it was a princely pile and 
fortihed, but is now surrounded with jungle ; the Rajah 
to make Shibnibas equal to Kasi, i.e., Benares, and as in 
Benares there is a great image of Shiva named Bisheswar, 
so he put one in Sibnibas named Bhura Sib, hence those 
well known lines — 

Sib Nibasi tulca Kasi 
Dhancoa nadi Kankana 
Dhaneoa Ragu Nandana* 

A very good account is given of Shibnibas in Herberts 
Journal, Voh I. pp. 120 ; thc Rajah built here 108 temples 
of Shiva and endowed them richly with land for thc 
maintenance of thc officiating priests. Ranighat, so called 
from thc Rani of Krishna Ghand, is thc abode of many 
rich Zemindars and particularly of the Chaudris. Human 
sacrifices were offered here in thc time of Krishna Chand : 
some of thc Zeminders there have been very oppressive, 
and were in thc habit of rubbing a hot iron over man’s 
body and making him then sign stamped papers. Chandi 
Bhattacharjya died here in 1841 ; he had 40 wives. Ranga- 
nanda, thc dewan of Krishna Chand, lived here, he was 
noted for his inhospitability, and thc following lines were- 
composecLon him : — 

Rajbari ghori baja tantana 
Dui prahare atit gele, 

Muktu mare chatkana. 

Dakoits swarmed here when Tytler was Magistrate in 
1809. Not far from Ranighat, is Via, so called from Ulia> 
goddess, whose festival is held here, when 9 |ks^ny presents 
arc made to her by thousands of people who come 



THE BANKS OW THE BHAOIIATHI 


23 


various parts : there are a thousand families of Brahmans^ 
many temples, and rich men living in it. As Guptapara 
is noted for its monkeys, Halishar for its drunkards so ia 
Ula for fools, as one man is said to become a fool every 
year at the mcla. The Baruari Puja is celebrated with 
great pomp ; the headmen of the town have passed a 
bye-law that any man who on this occasion refuses to 
entertain guests shall be considered infamous and shall be 
excluded from society, Saran Siddhanta of Ula had two 
daughters, who studied Sanskrit grammar and became 
very learned : in 1834, the babus of Ula raised a large 
subscription and gave it to the authorities to make a pakka 
road through the town. 

On the opposite side of the river is Guptapara ; the 
people of which arc famous for their activity and wit and 
the purity of their Bengali : there are 15 tolas and many 
pandits who study the Nyaya Shastra ; it is also notorious 
for thieves and Brahmans. In 1770, Cherinjib Bhatta- 
charjya of Guptapara composed in Sanskrit, the Vidyan- 
modu Tarangini : it treats of Hindu philosophy, and is 
in high repute among the natives, it was translated into 
English in 1832 by Rajah Kalikissen of Calcutta. There is 
a temple of Radha Ballub 5 the sons of the founder have an 
endowment for supplying travellers with food and drink. 
Guptapara is noted for its monkeys, which are very large 
and very mischievous, they sometimes break the women’s 
kalsis \ it has become a native proverb that, to ask persons 
whether they come from Guptapara, is equivalent to 
inquiring — are they monkeys ? Rajah Krishna Chandra 
Ray is said to have procured monkeys from Guptapara 
and to have married them at Krishnaghur, and on the 
occasion to have invited pandits from Nudiya, Guptapara, 
Ula and Santipur : the expenses of the nuptials cost about 
half a lakh ; though there arc many monkeys on the cast 
side of the river, there arc no hanuman$y or apes among 
them. The Rajah of Bishenpur was formerly so annoyed 
with monkeys who used to come into his place and steal 



24 


OALOXTTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


his provisions^ that he at last requested a body of sipahis 
to destroy them. Stavorinus mentions seeing a great 
number of monkeys in a wood at Guptapara., There is 
a celebrated mela here; in 1845, in consequences of the 
boat swamping 40 women were drowned as they were 
crossing over to the mela. At Sumuru village human sacri- 
fices were offered in 1770 — Ballaghur is the abode of many 
kulins, in the temple of Radhagovinda 12 Brahmans and 
50 beggars arc daily fed ; it has an English school : — Jirat 
is the residence of many Vaishnavas and Vaidyas ; there 
arc two tolas in which law and logic arc read : there arc 
30 families of Ghosains, who have a hospice there for the 
entertainment of all castes : Sudam, Radakanth and 
Swarup, notorious dakoits, lived there. Gokal Ganj is so 
called from Gokal Ghosc, who 30 years ago made a bazar 
there ; in 1882 the Government erected a bungalow for 
the occasional residence of their then superintendent of 
schools. 

Santipur has long been famous for its learning : it was 
the residence of Adwaitya, born 400 years ago, one of the 
friends of Ghaitanya, a Hindu reformer. There are still 
over 30 tolas, though they arc much fewer than in former 
times : one-third of the people are Vaishnavas, several of 
the descendants of Adwaitya live at Santipur, there is a 
temple which cost two lakhs, erected by Chaudri Babu, 
it is called Shamachand. A Kulin, Chandra Banerji, 
was killed here 30 years ago ; he was married to 100 wives 
and was murdered by the brother of one of them on 
account of his profligate conduct towards his sister ; eight 
of his wives performed satis on his funeral pyre. Satis were 
numerous Acre formerly : out of 56 Satis in 1816, in the 
district of Nudiya,20 were performed at Santipur. Human 
sacrifices were also frequent j even as late as 1832, a Hindu, 
at Kali Ghat, Calcutta, sent for a Musalman barber to 
shave him : he asked him afterwards to hold a goat while 
he cut off its head as an offering to Kali, the barber did 
so, but the Hindu cut off the barberV h^aciand offered 



THB BANES OF THB BHAQIBATHI 


25 


it to Kali ; he was sentenced by the Nizamut to be hung. 
A few years ago a number of Brahmans assembled at Santi- 
pur for puja and began to drink and carouse after it ; one 
proposed a sacrifice to Kali, they assented, but having 
nothing to sacrifice one cried out, where is the goat, on 
which another more drunk than the rest exclaimed, I will 
be the goat, and at once placed himself on his knees ; 
one of the company then cut off his head with the sacri- 
ficial knife, the next morning being freed from their drun- 
ken fit, they found the man with his head off, they had the 
corpse taken to the Ghat and burned and reported the 
man died of cholera. Suicides are on the increase, women 
think little of hanging themselves for any trifling domestic 
disturbance ; Ghat murders are also of occasional occur- 
rence : an old woman was found lately dead at the Ghat 
with her mouth stuffed with mud ; a man came sometime 
ago to the magistrate, he was 45 years old and requested 
leave to be burnt, as he said he was tired of life and burn- 
ing would be a blessing ; the magistrate offered him 
money which he refused, that night he was burned. The 
obscene rites of the Tantra Shastra are sometimes cele- 
brated there ; one of them is the worship of a shamefully 
exposed female. A Brahman of Santipur in the time of 
Rajah Krishn Chand was accused of criminal intercourse 
with the daughter of a shoe-maker ; the Rajah forbade the 
barber to shave him or the dhobi to wash for him, he 
applied to the Rajah for pardon and afterwards to the 
Nawab, but in vain ; subsequently the Rajah relented and 
allowed him to be shaved, but the family have not regain- 
ed their caste to the present time. Bribery is very 
common ; false witnesses charge two annas a day, for 
which they will swear to anything. Santipur has a great 
number of brick houses 5 it is noted for its ghosains, 
(•^Gentoo bishops” as Holwell calls them,) tailors and 
weavers : fine clothes called urini arc made ; there is a 
Sugar Factory 2 miles from the town, 700 persons are 
employed in it, and 500 mds. of sugar refined daily. The 



26 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUBHOOD 


river has made great changes a century ago it flowed 
behind the Sugar Factory 2 miles away from its present 
bed. RennePs map marks Santipur at a coAsiderable 
distance from the river. In 1845 a grant of Rs. 20,000 
was made by the Government for the repair of the road 
leading to Krishnaghur. 

The Commercial Residency of the East India Company 
was maintained here up to 1828; clothes to the value of 
12 or 15 lakhs were purchased every year by the Company 
from the weavers : the commercial resident had a salary of 
Rs. 42,351 annually, and lived in a magnificent house with 
marble floors, built for him at the cost of a lakh ; it was 
sold for Rs. 2,000. In 1822, the East India Company cloth 
manufactory gave employment to 5,000 persons : 1802, 
the Marquess of Wellesley spent two days at the Resi* 
dency : and 1792, there were shipped for England from 
the Santipur factory 14,000 mds. of sugar. Marjoribanks 
was the last resident and his plana failed. We have an 
account of Indigo factories near it in 1790 ; in the vicinity 
of Santipur are the Indigo Factories of Gangadharpur, 
Kali Ghat, Nanda Ghat and Hurni Khal under the 
management of Europeans Mr. May, the Superintendent 
of the Nudiya rivers, was engaged in 1836 in surveying a 
line of a proposed still water canal from the Hugly near 
Santipur to Mangra on the Nabaganga river, which, if 
cut, would have afforded a certain communication with 
the great river at all times of the year. No place on the 
river was so infested with dakoits as Santipur until the 
appointment of a Deputy Magistrate who is resident 
there : ewn Zemindars and respectable babus were in 
league with the dakoits ; no native would formerly venture 
to pass Santipur at night ; guard boats are now employed 
which sail swiftly and put a great check on river dakoity. 
There is an English School at Santipur : 1822, Messrs. 
Hill, Warden and Trawin of the London Missionary 
Society, preached in Santipur ; they remark that “the; 
people have much simplicity and received the truth more 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAGIRATHI 


27 


earnestly than Bengalis generally.*' They examined 
whether Santipur would not make a suitable mission 
station : they reported that ^‘Santipur has 50,000 inhabi- 
tants at least and 20,000 houses many of which were built 
of brick and exhibit evident marks of antiquity— that it 
had a vast population — was contiguous to other large and 
populous villages, being only 3^ miles from Guptapara, 
which contains 10,000 people, about 4 miles from Ambika 
and Kalna, two adjacent villages the aggregation of whole 
population is 45,000 — ^‘the favourable dispositoin of the 
moral feelings of the people, which we conceive has 
been cherished materially by the general instruction 
which has been diffused by the Company’s schools” — the 
opportunity of obtaining medical assistance from Krishna- 
ghur, 12 miles distant — the situation of the place to the 
river with every facility for intercourse with Calcutta — 
induced them to recommend it as a mission station. Here 
Holwell was landed as a prisoner on his way to Murshi- 
dabad, after surviving the misery of the Black Hole : he 
was marched up to the Zemindar of Santipur ‘4n a scor*^ 
ching sun near noon, for more than a mile and a half, 
his legs running in a stream of blood from the irritation 
of the irons.” From thence he was sent in an open fishing 
boat to Murshidabad, ^^exposed to succession of heavy 
rain or intense sunshine/’ He was lodged in an open 
stable ; he experienced however every act of kindness 
from Messrs. Law and Vernct, the French and Dutch 
chiefs of Kasimbazar ; as also from the American mer- 
chants. He was led about the city in chains as a spectacle 
to the inhabitants, to show the condition the English were 
reduced to. 

Kalna (Gulna) lies on the opposite side and is noted for 
its great trade, being the port of the Burdwan district, 
the bazar has 1000 shops, the houses arc chiefly of brick. 
Great quantities of rice bought from merchants of Rang- 
pur, Dewanganj, Jaffirganj, arc here stored up, grain, silk 
and cotton also from a large staple. Kalna must have 



28 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUBHOOD 


been a place of some importance in Musalman times^ as 
the ruins of a large fort are still to be seen near the Mission 
House, which commanded the river : great numbers of 
snakes are brought to it from various parts of the country, 
the village of Ambika is situated near it, so called from 
Ambika, the goddess Durga. Kalna is said to have 60,000 
inhabitants, the chief part of whom come from different 
parts of the country to carry on trade here, *Uhcy 
have not the simplicity which villagers generally have, but 
arc more deceitful.’' The Raja of Burdwan has a magni- 
ficent mansion here, in which is Dhatrita or alms-house, 
where several hundred beggars are daily fed on flour, 
ghi, rice and dal : there is an atithishala for travellers ; 
close to it is a place called a Somaj Bati, where a bone of 
every deceased member of the Rajah’s family is deposited, 
while a bone of the last Rajah is exposed wrapt up in 
cloth ; the Rajah belongs to the Khatriya tribe, who bury 
the ashes of the dead : inside of the Rajbari are 108 tem- 
ples of Shiva ranged in two circles, one within the other, 
above 50 priests are employed to serve them : the buildings 
must have cost a large sum of money, but it is to be 
observed that the zemindary of Burdwan is the only great 
estate which has suffered no diminution since the English 
Government was established, while the estates of Krishn- 
ghur, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, and Vishnupur, formerly equal 
to the patrimony of princes have been broken up and 
sold for arrears of revenue. In 1832 the old Rajah of 
Burdwan died at Ambika : the succession was afterwards 
disputed, and one Pratap Chand came forward to claim 
the property stating that he was the real Rajah and had 
not been really burnt ; the trial lasted a long time and 
was sent down to the Sadar, the decision filling 100 reams 
of foolscap, — as if the Sadar Judges could have either 
leisure or inclination to wade through such a mass of 
documents, — in order to come at the truth. The editor of 
Darpan remarked of the trial, **such a scene of villainy has 
been brought to the light by this trial, as has never* 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAOIRATHI 


29^ 


we believe, been exhibited in Bengal. If the prisoner be 
the real Pratap Ghand, the villainy by which the present 
Rajah has been seated on the gadi to the injury of the 
rightful heir is most surprising. If on the contrary, tho 
real Pratap Ghand did actually, die and his body was burnt 
the pretender will stand unrivalled for roguery.*’ 10,000 
persons assembled on the first day of his trial at Hugly : 
the popular feeling was in favour of Pratap Ghand. 

The river formerly flowed behind Kalna, where old 
Kalna now is ; it passed by Pyagachi, the remains of deep 
and large jils are still to be met with there. Old Kalna 
is deserted as a place of trade, but is the residence of 
many respectable natives. Ticffentbalcr states that at 
Kalna the Ganges forms a bay. At Baydapur near Kalna 
about 1820 there were two Raths kept at a short distance 
from the town, near an unfrequented road ; many persons 
were murdered by robbers who concealing themselves 
there, sprang out, killed the travellers and hid their bodies 
among the wheels of the Rath ; the people suffered much, 
but could not find out the murderers, at length some 
said the Rath was the cause : they buried it to the 
ground and then the murders ceased. Some of Sleeman’s^ 
approvers told him that Pungus or river Thugs lived near 
Kalna and also near Katwa. Many persons were formerly 
killed at Kamardanga Khal near Kalna, so that it was 
unsafe to pass through it even by day. West of Kalna 
is a tank occupying eight bighas, where a mela is held : 
near it are two fine ruins of mosques, one of which has 
layers of stone running through the building, ornamented 
with tracery ; it contains the tomb of the founder, A 
good road was made between Kalna and Burdwan in 
1831, with bungalows, stables, and tanks every 8 miles, by 
the Rajah of Burdwan chiefly with the design of enabling 
him to bathe in the Ganges. Kankar is found near this 
road ; the country to the west of Kalna is high ground^ 
richly wooded. In 1837 property to the value of a lakh 
was consumed in the bazar, the fire lasted three days. In. 



30 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


3822 Messrs, Hill, Warden and Trawin visited Kalna and 
found that numbers of the boys could read. Kalna now 
forms in a station of the Free Church Mission,., and has 
an English school there containing 120 boys. A mela 
called Grachemi is held in March, attended by numbers 
of Musalmans and Hindus. A Musalman Zemindar here 
holds a grant of 160 bighas made to him by Sultan Suja 
200 years ago, and continued by the Rajah of Burdwan ; 
at the village of Chaga is an image of Shiva which is 
fabled to produce images of itself and immersed in water 
for ten months every year : Kulti is said to produce 
roots which cure spleen, as Kukutpur has roots which 
are said to cure the bites of dogs. — Holwell states that 
in his time (about 1760 ) there was a Amboah near 
Kalna a college of Brahmans supported by the people 
for the purpose also of maintaining the monkeys in the 
adjacent groves. 

Mirzapur Khal lies north of Kalna, and was designed 
to be the terminus of a canal to lead from the Hughly at 
Kalna to Rajmahal. The Military Board in 1844 reported 
that no permanent improvement can be made in the chan- 
nels of the Nudiya rivers owing to the shifting of the chan- 
nels: they recommended a canal from Kalna to Rajmahal 
130 miles long, 50 feet broad, and 5 deep, which would cost 
at the lowest 3,847 rupees \ boats going to the Ganges from 
Calcutta would save a round of 326 miles by it, they cal- 
culated on a profit of 14J per cent by it : the Government 
had surplus of 3,235,930 rupees from the tolls of Bhagi- 
rathi^ Circular and Tolly’s canals and the Nudiya rivers. 
The Dhq^ factory owes its origin to the enterprising 
spirit of Mr. Blake, who risked his fortune in it ; Colonel 
Slecman very justly proposed that the Agricultural Society 
should give him a gold medal for advancing the Sugar 
manufacture in India, he established it under the most 
unfavourable circumstances, and on bis arrival in England 
he wtis offered four lakhs for the concern, but he formed 
a Joint Stock Company, which purchased the works from 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAGIBATHI 


31 


iliim for 4^ lakhs, and he retained 300 shares for him- 
self ; in 1836 they manufactured 800 tons of sugar. There 
arc four Europeans and 250 natives employed. It has 
a number of factories as Tremoni in Jessore on the 
.Kabbadak ; Kissapur, Jessore ; Chandput near Chau- 
gachha ; Rari Khali ; Narikalbari ; Sudpur ; Bonmari j 
Kanchanagar ; Surui ; Santipur. We find that in 1801 one 
Mr. Gordon lived at Santipur as Superintendent of rum 
and sugar works belonging to the E.LC. He then intro- 
duced the China cane which he describes as not liable 
to the ravages of white ants and jackals ; the E.LC. had 
a sugar plantation farm at Santipur. Mirzapur is describ- 
ed by a traveller of 1822 thus, ‘Hhis village is situated on 
a beautiful arm of the river, and presents some of the most 
rural enchanting scenery which we have seen in India. 

We next come to the far famed Nudiya, Nabadwip ; 
all its early history however, like that of Gaur, is buried 
in the wreck of time : we need not be surprized that wc 
have few records of Nudiya, when we find that we have 
scarcely any of Gaur, though as late as 1556 Gaur was a 
flourishing city three leagues long ; though the streets were 
wide, yet the people were so numerous that they were 
sometimes trodden to death : il was 20 miles in circum* 
fcrcnce and the rich people used to cat their food from 
golden plates. The earliest fact wc know about Nudiya is 
that in 1203 it was the capital of Bengal and was surround- 
ed with a wall, that Lakshman Sen, its last sovereign, was 
at dinner when news reached him that Bhaktiyar Khilji, 
the Musalman General, was marching into the city, on 
which he made his escape to Vikrampur in a small boat^ 
his nobility apprehending a Muhammedan invasion, had 
sometime before deserted the city. Nudiya was plundered 
and sacked by Bhaktiyar and the seat of empire was trans- 
ferred to Gaur. In Laksbman’s time Bengal became indepen- 
dent of the Magadh empire, to which it was subject before. 
An to how long Nudiya was the capital, or what Kings 
dived in it. or why that place was selected, not a single 



32 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUBHOOD 


ray of light is furnished cither from tradition or Mss*. 
^‘Sictransit gloria mundi” — the condition of the people at 
that time was probably semi-barbarous, as thc^ very likely 
used the Bengali language, which was then in a very poor 
idiom, as it has had no grammar until within the last 
sixty years ; the upper classes and priesthood spoke and 
wrote in Sanskrit. Even the Bengal Brahmans were so 
illiterate in the days of Adisur that he procured the ser- 
vices of certain Brahmans of Kanauj who bad gone to 
Ganga Sagar to bathe. Bhaktiyar was the first Musalmaa 
invader of Bengal. The caprices of the river have not 
left a fragment of any old buildings : in Lakshan’s time it 
flowed at the west of the present town near Jehannagar ; 
and old Nudiya, which was swept away by the river, lay 
to the north of the existing Nudiya. The old town was 
on the Krishnaghur side of the river, hence when Bengal 
was divided into zillahs, the district of Krishnaghur was 
called the disrict of Nudiya ; Government lately intended 
to attach Nudiya to the Burdwan district on account of its 
being on the other side of the river in 1840, a gentleman 
of Krishnaghur dug up the remains of fish 12 feet beneath 
the ground in Nudiya. 

Nudiya drives much of its celebrity from its having 
been the birth place of Ghaitanya, the great Hindu here- 
siarah i hence the Ghaitanya Bhagabat writes, ‘^No village 
is equal to Nudiya in even earth or hell, because Chai- 
tanya was there incarnated, no one can tell the wealth 
of Nudiya, if the people read in Nudiya they find the ras 
of learning, and the number of students is innumerable”. 
Chaita()jya born at Nudiya A.D. 1346, his father was a 
Baidik Brahman : at 44 years of age he was persuaded by 
Adwaitya to become a mendicant to forsake his wife and 
go to Benares ; he then formed a sect, teaching them 
to renounce a secular life, to eat with all those who arc 
Vaishnavas, he allowed widows to marry ; the Ghosains 
are his successors ; one-fifth of the population of Bengal 
are followers of Ghaitanya ; his disciples are on the . 



THB BANKS OK THB BHAOIBATHl 


33 


increase. Todd thinks the worship of Krishna succeeded 
that of the simple form of Hindu worship, viz. of the 
Jains, who adore Jin or spirit. Nityananda, a coadjutor 
of Ghaitanya, resided in the midst of Nudiya ; his image 
is there still and is worshipped. The era of Ghaitanya, 
formed the commencement of Bengali literature. 

The settlement of Ghaitanya and his followers at 
Nudiya ( Ghaitanya died A. D. 1396 ) together with the 
Gourt of Bengal having been held there, were probably 
the chief causes of its having become a seat of learning : 
tradition however states that a learned devotee settled 
there, when it was a dense jangal, who attracted a number 
of learned men to the place: probably Nudiya derived 
its original supply of Pandits from Tirhut. The Ayin-i 
Akbary mentions that in the time of Lakshman ^‘Nudiya 
was the capital of Bengal and abounded with wisdom 
in 1819 there was a handsome temple of Krishna finely 
ornamented. 

Human sacrifices used to be offered in the temple of 
Durga at Brahmanitala near Nudiya : in 1799 at Bagna 
Para 37 widows were burnt with their husbands, the fire 
was burning 3 days ; on the first day, 3 were burnt, on 
the second, 15, and on the third day, 19 ; the deceased 
had over 100 wives — in 1807, the Tapta Mukti or ordeal 
by hot clarified butter was tried before 7000 spectators 
on a young woman accused by her husband of adultery : 
— a meeting of Brahmans was held in 1760 at Kishnaghur 
before Glive and Verclst, who wished to have a Brahman 
restored to his caste which he had lost by being compelled 
to swallow a drop of cow’s shup ; the Brahmans declared 
it was impossible to restore him ( though Ragunandan 
had decided in the Prayaschitta Tatva that an atonement 
can be made when one loses cast by violence ) and the 
man died soon after of a broken heart, Nudiya was then 
the Head Qjiarter of Hindu orthodoxy, the place of 
Hindu retreat ; Gunga Govind Singh, the dewan of 
Warren Hastings, after having acquired immense wealth, 
—3 



34 


OiLLOlTTTA A3ID ITS HBIGBBOUBHOOD 


retired to Nudiya with two or three hundred Vairagis, 
leaving all his money to his grandson Lalla^Babu, who 
withdrew to Brindaban, where he expended 6 lakhs on 
temples, tanks &c. — Gunga Govind Singh erected a temple 
over 60 feet high, which was washed away 25 years ago by 
the river ^ it was at Ramchandrapur and supplied food to 
many fakirs and pilgrims of the Vaishnavas : he himself was 
a Sudra. At Bullal Digy, north of Nudiya, the house of the 
famous Bullal Sen stood, there were formerly many temples, 
but the river has swept them also away : Lord Valentia 
writes in 1805, of **a very handsome Musalman Gollge at 
Nudiya which was for three hours in sight and bore from us 
at every point of the compass during this time.” The bore 
came up to Nudiya in Sir W. Jones’ time ; beyond it cocoa 
trees do not flourish. In 1835 a Dharmasahla was establi- 
shed, called that the Ten Thakurs, they punished offenders 
by excluding them from caste, by sending them when they 
transgressed the Regulations, to the magistrate of Krishna- 
ghur, or by prohibiting midwives attending their wives in 
confinement. An almanac has been published in Nudiya 
long before the time of Rajah Krishna, it is superior to 
that of Bali or that of Maula near Mushidabad : this 
almanac regulates the principal festivals. In May 1817, 
the cholera began in Nudiya, in 1818 it spread through 
India, then in 1820 to China, 1821 to Arabia and Persia, 
1823 to Russia, Prussia, and in 1832 to London. The 
neighbourhood of Nudiya until recently was in a wild state, 
80 years ago people were obliged when travelling to sound 
instruQjyents to scare about the tigers away ; about 1826 
a tiger was killed at Dhogachea, 6 miles west of Nudiya. 
Dr. Leyden wrote in 1809 to Sri S. Raffies that he was 
for several months magistrate in Nudiya, where he 
was engaged bush fighting in the junglcs*\ Jahanagar 
(the same as Brahmanitala) west of Nudiya has a great 
snela in July, the tradition is that Jahna Muni thero 
swallowed up the Ganges. A cow called Ramdenu is 
Worshipped in Nudiya. Another Ramdenu is worshipped in 



THE BAHXS OV TXB BKAOIBATHI 36 

Benares ; it must be one of an age to give milk, which yet 
Jias never been capacitated to do so ; when one dies an* 
other is selected : she is chiefly worshipped by the person 
in whose house she is. There are over 30 temples in 
Nudiya and about 100 tolas, it is a finishing school for 
those pandits who wish to know logic thoroughly as Barh 
or Burdwan is for Grammar students, and Kamakhya 
Krishnaghur for law students ■, there are students here 45 
years old, many come to study from the distance of Assam, 
so that the remark of Dr. Carey, who visited Nudiya 1794, 
is perfectly just, “Several of the most learned pandits and 
Brahmans much wished us to settle there : and as this 
is the great place of Eastern learning we seem inclined, 
especially as it is the bulwork of heathenism, which, if once 
carried, all the rest of the country must be laid open to 
us”. Lord Minto wrote a very able minute, recommeding 
that two Sanskrit Colleges should be established, one at 
Tirhut, the other at Nudiya; he encouraged learning there, 
giving two chief pandits Rs. 100 monthly each, prizes were 
awarded to the best native scholars, in the first class Rs. 
800, in the 2nd Rs. 400, 3rd Rs. 200, 4th Rs. 100, besides 
a khetab to the one most proficient. The G. M. S. have 
had an English school here during the last eight years. 
The Rev. Mr. Deer, of the C.M.S., founded schools 16 
years ago in Nudiya. 

Agradip is called by Wilford, Aganagara, and is famous 
for the mela called baroni held in April, established for 
three centuries ; these melas also answer commercial pur* 
poses like the fairs of Germany (ferioe ) ; at Ganga Sagar 
mela in 1838, goods to the value of 12 lakhs were sold. In 
1823 Agradip mela was attended by 100,000 persons ; 
in 1813 two women cast their children into the river, 
but the fathers took them out again and paid a certain 
-sum to the Brahmans for their ransom : People from Dhaka 
and Jessore used to throw their children to the Ganges 
there. At Katwa two mothers did the same, one of the 
children was taken up, but the mother seized it again. 



0AL0T7TTA AND ITS NEIttHBOUBHOOD 


broke its neck, and cast it into the river. The great attraC' 
tion here is the image of Gopinath or Krishna ; jts history 
is the following — Ghosh Thakur was sent as a disciple of 
Ghaitanya and Nityananda to Agradip, to take a certain 
stone and make out of it an image of Gopinath to set up 
there as an object of worship : Ghosh Thakur did so, it 
became famous ; after his death the image fell into the 

hands of the Rajah of Krishnaghur, who sent a Brahman 

to perform the ceremony before the image and receive the 
offerings : the offerings to the image yield an annual profit 
to the owner, the Rajah of Krishnaghur, of about Rs. 
25,000 ; Rajah Nabakissen seized it 30 years ago on account 
of a debt due to him, the lawful owner however regained 
it by a law suit, not however before a counterfeit one had 
been made exactly resembling it : the image is fabled to 
reveal many secrets ; different castes cat together at this 
mela : Gopinath means Lord of the caves, as Krishna was 
worshipped formerly in caves chiefly at Gaya, and Jalindra 
near the Indus. The Temple in which Gopinath is placed 
was endowed by Rajah Krishna Chand with lands to the^ 
annual value of Rs. 7,000 ; in 1828 the old temple was 
washed away by the river and the present temple is 
erected one mile from the river, built in the European 
style of architecture. Forty years ago there was a cloth 
manufactory here. In RcnncFs time Agradip was situated 
on the left bank of the river, it is now on the right ; it wash 
on the left bank when Henry Marty n visited it in 1806 j 
he saw there a wild boar of a very large size walking on 
the hill of the river: we find tl^al in 1769 the Bengal 
Gover^ent paid Rs. 1,918 to Bildars and Kulis for cutting 
down the “the tiger jungle’’ at Pattchah in Agradip 5 in 
1771 the charge was Rs. 873 — A storm occurred here in 
1832 which sunk the boats of a regiment of soldiers. 

Dewanjang Indigo factory established 53 years ago, 
lies north of Agradip, it gives employment to a number of 
Bunuas, a class of aborigines like the Bag4}} Poda, Harin, 
Dbangars who came from Gaur and retired to the hills.^ 



THB BANES OV THB BHAGIBATHl 


37 


Pliny mentions Indigo being brought from India ; it was 
formerly called in Germany *‘the Davil’s dye*’ and the 
use of it was prohibited : the Elector of Saxony in Queen 
Elizabeth’s time describes it as a corrosive substance, not 
fit food for man or devil”. In 1783 the attention of the 
East India Company was directed to the cultivation of it 
in Bengal. There are twenty-nine Indigo Factories 
between Nudiya and Mursidabad. At one of these. Dr. A. 
Rogers tried experiments of the flax cultivation, having 
brought out a Belgian for that purpose. Ghemberlain, 
a celebrated Missionary of Katwa, used often to visit this 
place, and placing himself beneath the shade of a large 
tamarind tree, **prcach to successive congregations from 
sun-rise to sun-set”. 

Katwa (Gutwa,) called by Arrian Katadipa, raises up 
a host of associations connected with stirring scenes in 
Bengal history ; here Clive arrived in 1756 on his route to 
Plasi, expecting to meet Mir Jaffir, but on his not arriving, 
he saw that the fate of the English hung on a hair — should 
he wait two or three days at Katwa, the French under 
Law would by that time arrive and join the Nawab’s 
50,000 troops should he fight, the river was only for* 
dable in one place and if defeated, ‘*not one man would 
have returned alive to tell the tale*’ : in this crisis he called 
a Council of War, in which every member voted against 
coming to an immediate action, except two captains ^ 
Clive afterwards remarked this was the only Council of War 
he ever held, and that if he had abided by that Council 
it would have been the cause of ruin of the East India 
dompany : after twenty-four hours* consideration, Clive 
took on himself the responsibility of breaking the decision 
of the Council, and ordered the army to cross the river* 
Goote was in favour of immediate action, on the ground 
that delay discourages soldiers, and that the arrival of 
Monsieur Law, (to whom the Nawab allowed Rs. 10,000 
monthly) would give vigour to the counsels of the N^wabt 
^hat many French and English soldiers would desert to Law, 



38 


CALOXJTTA AVD ITS NEIBHBOUEBOOD 


besides **the distance from Calcutta was so great that all 
communication from thence would certainly be cut off**. 
Katwa was formerly regarded as the military key of Mur- 
shidabad within six miles round it there is a population of 
100,000. Pere Ticffenthalcr describes it as a place where 
‘*they make much fine stuffs of cotton and silk’’, it is still 
the great port for the Birbhum district. In the Gola Ganj 
there are several hundred shops which sell sugar, cloth, 
iron ; in 1836 the Raja of Kewgang in Birbhum offered to 
make a pakka road from Suri to Katwa, a. distance of 
forty miles, provided he should be allowed the service of 
convicts on the road ; the Judge of Burdwan remarked in 
1802, ‘'commerce has been much extended by the opening 
of the three grand roads leading to Hugly, Kalna and 
Katwa, which have been lately put into a state of repair 
by the labour of the convicts, and nothing can more for- 
ward the commerce of this district which has not the ad* 
vantage of land navigation, or more coducc to the general 
convenience of the inhabitants than good roads”. There 
is a temple of Maha Probhu frequented by numbers of 
Vairagis and travellers, they are fed there at the cost of 
the shopkeepers who contribute one pice out of every 
Rs. 100 to defray the expenses. In 1812 a leper was burnt 
alive here, he threw himself into a pit 10 cubits deep, 
there being fire at the bottom ; the leper rolled himself 
into it, but on feeling the fire he begged to be taken out 
and struggled to get free : his mother however and sister 
thurst him in again and he wasburnt to death ; he believed 
by so doing he should be transmigrated into a finer body : 
in Calcutta a few years ago there were 53 1 lepers, of whom 
118 were^eggars: lepers have burnt themselves alive in 
Katwa as recent as 1825. About 1810 the headless cropse 
of a man was found in the temple of a certain goddess at 
the village of Serampur near Katwa, it had been offered aS' 
human sacrifice. Murshid Kuli Khan erected at Katwa 
guard-houses for the protection of travellers ; one of bia> 
oflS<;ers had charge of it, and whenever he eaught a 



THK BAirXS or IHS BHAOZBAZn 


99 


used to have his body split in two and hung upon trees 
of the high road. Katwa was the scene of various battles 
between the Musalmans and Mahrattas, those hardy 
warriors, “who deserted the plough for the sword, and 
the goathered made a lance of his crook : various parts 
of Bengal verify the remark of Todd, “the Mahrattas 
were associations of vampires, who drained the very life 
blood wherever the scent of spoil carried them ■, where 
the Mahrattas encamped annihilation was ensured ; 
twenty-four hours sufficed to give to the most flourshing 
spot the spectacle of a desert” ; “these very Mahratta 
scrupled to kill the most noxious animals, while they 
eagerly employed their tulwars in the destruction of man : 
AH Verdy Khan retreated in 1742 before the Mahrattas 
from Midnapur to Katwa during 7 days, through a miry 
country, and incessant showers of rain, with no bed for 
the soldiers but the bare earth and no food but grass and 
leaves of trees — one of the most enterprising achievements 
in history, exhibiting a power of endurance which some- 
what reminds us of the celebrated retreat of the ten 
thousand Greeks. The Mahrattas invaded Burdwan as 
late as 1760. Chaitanya paid a visit to Katwa about 1370 
to see Kesab, a Sanniasi who lived there. 

The Aji river lies to the north of Katwa, it is said to 
have been formerly a deep stream, but be now silted up ; 
Wilford calls it the Ajamati or shining river, it is the Amystii 
of Megasthenes ; Arrian mentions it ; it is named the 
Ajaya in the Galava Tantra, which states that however 
bathes in it becomes unconquerable. Jaydeva, the great 
lyric poet of Bengal, was born on the banks of the Aji near 
Kenduli in the opinion of Lassen, and the Vishnuvites } 
though others assign his birth place to Tirhut or Orissa. 
The Gita Gobinda was translated by Sir W. Jones into 
English, by Lassen into Latin, and by Ruckert into German. 
The great Akbar was an enthusiastic admirer of the 
mystic poetry of Jaydeva, so like the Sufism of the Per- 
sians. his poetry, is studied very much at Nathuwara near 



40 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NJSiaHBOUBHOOD 


Udyapur ; Jaydeva lived according to Todd 300 years 
ago, according to Lassen A.D. 1150, his tomb is atKenduIi 
near Ilambazar^ and there is an annual festival <held there 
resorted to by numbers of Vaishnabs, as Jaydeva strongly 
recommended in his writings the worship of Krishna, 
particularly in his Gita Govinda, which he composed at 
Katamkhandi, a village 12 miles north of Ilambazar, the 
place is still called Jaydevpara. L. S. a poet, lived on 
the banks of the Aji, 12 miles from Katwa, people travell- 
ing are fond of singing his poems, there is an account of 
him in the Dharma Puran, are also a description of Katwa* 
The Dhoba Company have coal stores at Katwa, they 
bring their coals down the Aji, which is a very dangerous 
stream as the boats are often swamped by sudden rushes 
of mountain torrents. The Aji and Babla sometimes flow 
down with such violence from the Birbhum hills as to 
cause the Bhagirathi to roll back its waters. To the north 
of the Aji is the Fort of Katwa, which was half a mile in 
circumference, taken by Cootc in 1757 ; it had 14 guss 
mounted then : in 1763 Captain Long took it from Kasim 
Ali : the walls were of mud, it commanded the river ; 
Major Coote with 200 European and 500 Native troops 
and 2 guss, came to the banks of the Aji and called on the 
garrison to surrender, the shipahis crossed the river and 
fired on the garrison under shelter of the bank, when the 
garrison saw the Europeans crowd the river, they set fire 
to a shed of mats which had been made to protect the 
walls from the sun and escaped to the north ; within the 
fort and in several granaries in the neighbourhood the 
English^und as much rice as would support ten thousand 
men for a year. At the close of the rains of 1742 Ali 
Vardy had 600 of his soldiers drowned on the breaking of 
a bridge of boats as he was crossing the Aji to attack 
Bhaskar Rao in Katwa : the Mahraltsis had then in 
possession of all the country weal of Murshidabad, so that 
the inhabitants of the city were obliged to remove their 
property across the Ganges, as the enemy in the dry 



THB BANKS OF THE BHAGIBATin 


41 


-season had plundered all the country about Plasi and 
Daudpur. 

Following the tedious shifting and windings of the 
river wc come to the field of Plasi (Plassey) so called from 
Palasa, a tree counted very holy *, Sir W. Jones states 
that there was a grove of those trees at Plasi formerly, 
they were to be seen at Krishnaghur in Jone’s time. Of 
the famous mango grove called Lakha Bag, from there 
having been a lakh of trees in it, (this tope was about a 
mile to the east of Ramnagar Factory), all the trees have 
died or been swept away by the river, excepting one under 
which one of the Nawab’s generals, who fell in the battle, 
is buried ; the place is called by the natives Pirha Jaga, 
and is, held sacred by the Hindus and Musalmans, but 
particularly by the last. This grove was 800 yards long and 
300 yards broad, it existed at the time of the battle, there 
is only one tree left ; the river has so changed its course 
as to have swept away everything which was on the 
surface at the time the battle was fought ; as late as 1801 
there were 3000 mango trees remaining and the place 
was notorious for dakoits who lurked in jungles there. 
An English traveller of 1801 thus writes about Plasi, ‘‘the 
river continually encroaching on its banks in this direction, 
has at length swept the battle field away, every trace is 
obliterated, and a few miserable huts literally overhanging 
the water, are the only remains of the celebrated 
Palasi’^ Murders and dakoits were formerly very common 
in the neighbourhood of Plasi, the jungly state of the 
country affording shelter to marauders of every descrip- 
tion, it is now a cultivated plain. Important as the battle 
of Plasi was to the English interests, there was another 
equally so, the battle of Biderra near Chinsura, for aa 
Holwell remarks, had the Dutch gained the victory they 
would have been joined by the Nawab, **and not an 
individual of the Golony would have escaped slaughter/' 
Glive is said to have fallen asleep, amid the roar 
of the cannon in the battle when he awoke he found 



42 


OALOUaTA AND ITS NEIOHBOWKHOOD 


the enemy retiring, but he put Major Kirkpatrick 
under arrest for advancing without his orders — while he 
was asleep, one cause of the defeat of the Nawab^s troops 
was that their matchlocks did not fire owing to the rain 
having wetted the powder. A life of Clive was published 
by an Italian in 4 vols. It was compiled by a deadly 
enemy of Clive, who wrote it with the intention of damag- 
ing his character. We mention the following few notices 
of him which are little known and are not recorded in 
Malcolm's Life of Clive— Clive was called by Pitt in the 
Senate **the heaven born generar — he learned dancing 
at Paris 1763, in order to please the French ladies — many 
of the French nobility, who despised all the mercantile 
class, condemned Clive for having been a mercantile office 
— he forbade all the Company's servants in India the use 
of a palankins, and the junior servants the use of even an 
umbrella — he rose early and then executed a good part 
of his business^ afterwards breakfasted and then took 
exercise he was rather reserved in company — he was 
a great enemy to interlopers, when leaving India in 1767 
he issued orders that all free merchants should be recalled 
to Calcutta and should not quit it. 

Clive knew nothing of the vernaculars — Clive the 
warrior of India and Orme his historian were appointed 
writers the same day after the battle of Plasi he proposed 
to the authorities the conquest of China, in order to pay 
off the national debt : — Mir Jaffir (nicknamed Clive’s ass) 
sent a massage after the battle to offer Clive several 
hundred of Siraj-ud-daulah's women which were taken 
in the cSiffiip — an East India Co. Director once asked Clive 
whether Sir Roger Dowlcr (Suraj-ud-daulah) was not a • 
baronet — this is as good as Lord George Bentinck’s stating 
that if the price of sugar be raised, the hundred million 
of Hindus will not be able to sweeten their tea — Clive's 
voyage from England to Calcutta in 1765 cost the East India 
Company Rs. 73,489. He used all hiA influence and power 
to get Benodoram, a native favourite his restored to 



TW BANKS OF THB BHAGIBATHI 4^ 

caite, but failed — when he went home he was exposed 
to various insults from civilians or military men whom 
he had offended in India, once he was obliged to disguise 
himself three times in one day to avoid the pursuit of 
some of his enemies. Clive suggested a plan to Pitt for 
establishing a mighty empire in India extending from the 
Ganges to Kambay, he proposed in 10 years to pay off 
the national debt from the diamond mines, and to divide 
the country into ten provinces with deputy governors in 
each. The people of Murshidabad expected to be plun- 
dered after the battle, and were therefore greatly surprised 
when no contribution was levied on them, — Clive remarked 
that when he entered Mushidabad at the head of 200 
Europeans and 500 sipahis, the inhabitants, if inclined 
to destroy the Europeans, might have done it with sticks 
and stones. Ramnagur silk factory is opposite to the field of 
Plasi, the river formerly ran behind it. Saktipur near 
Ramnagar is noted for an annual mela of Shiva in March, 
when many visitors and shop-keepers repair to it from 
Calcutta and Murshidabad, 30,000 people assemble, silk 
is produced chiefly on the west bank of the river, as the 
soil there is dark and more suitable for it. Near the 
village of Munkirra not far from Ramnagar, Ali Verdy 
treacherously assasinated Bhaskar Pandit with 19 of his 
officers. The troops of Siraj-ud-daula, when driven from 
Plasi, were pursued by the English to Daudpur nine miles 
distant. The Nawabs of Murshidabad then kept a stud 
of 300 of elephants there, they still keep them ; it was a 
hunting seat, there is a large bil called Kalantar near it, 
where abundance of Chera called dal is procurable for 
elephants ; from this place Mir Jaffir sent word to the 
English that he was coming to join them, when the Nawab 
went to Murshidabad and offered large sums of money 
to induce the soldiers to fight for him, but they would not; 
at night he escaped from the palace windows with two or 
three attendants. Mangan Para lies north of Plasi, and 
ia famous for the Kacheri of the Berhampur Rajah. 



44 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 


Rangamati next presents its bluff cliffs, forty feet high 
the only elevated ground in that neighborhooj^, it being 
cither a spur of the Birbhum hills or else rock decomposed 
in situ, the remains of the original level of the country : 
the earth is red, Rangamati, and of the same kind with 
that found near Rampur Baulea and Midnapur, the inter- 
vening soil of a similar description being probably washed 
away by a process of denudation ; Parasnath hill is 5,000 
feet high, while all the surrounding country is a low table 
land ; red clay, like that of Rangamati, encompasses the 
Delta of Bengal and is found in Dinajpur, Rajshahi, 
Dhaka, Goalpara ; Dr. McClelland observes, *‘this clay 
has long appeared to me like the remnant of the ancient 
continuous surface, through which the rivers have cut 
their channels for ages, so as nearly to have effaced it 
altogether. ‘‘The legend respecting Rangamati is, that 
Bibisan, brother of Raban, being invited to a feast by a 
poor Brahman at Rangamati, as a token of gratitude 
rained gold on the ground, and hence the earth is red ; 
by others it is ascribed to Bhu Deb, who through the power 
of his topasya, rained gold. Wilford writes that Ranga- 
mati was formerly called Oresphonta, Hararpunt or Harar- 
pana, i.c., ground arpana consecrated to Kara or Shiva* 
^‘Here was formerly a place of worship dedicated to Maha- 
deva or Hara, with an extensive tract of ground appro- 
priated to the worship of the God ; but the Ganges having 
destroyed the place of worship, and the holy ground 
having been resumed during the invasions of the Musal- 
mans, it is entirely neglected. It still exists however as a 
place 1st worship, only the image of the Phallus is removed 
to a great distance from the river”, it is called by the 
poets Kusumapuri, an epithet applied to favourite towns 
of theirs as Patna, Burdwan, Rangamati. The remains of 
pottery, which have been dug up, show that there was a 
large population here once : in the Mogul times there was 
FaUzdar ; and in 1767 the Zemindar of Rangamati rccciv*- 
«d a Kbelat at the Puna of Mutjil to the value of Rs* 7,278 



THB BANKS OF THB BHAQIBATHI 


46^ 


Rangamati was one of the ten fauzdaries into which Bengal 
was divided ; it is resorted to as a sanitarium, and is 
favourite place for picnic parties; the undulations of land 
and scenery remind one of England ; it abounds with pa- 
tridge and snipe, and shooting excursions are often made 
there. It was once selected, instead of Berhampur, for the 
erection of barracks, as being a high and healthy spot. In 
1835 the Company’s silk factory here was sold for Rs. 
21,000, it had 1,500 bigas of land attached to it ; the high 
land is not so well adapted for the growth of the Mullbcrry 
as that of the low alluvial soil in the neighbourhood ; in 
1784 Warren Hastings spent a few days here with Sir John 
Doyley — Hastings’ name suggests various points — he was 
the first Governor-General who patronised Oriental and 
Statistical studies, as the inquries on Tibet, Cochin China 
and the Red Sea show ; he supported, at his own expense,, 
pandits in Calcutta to translate from the Sanskrit, poems 
and mythological works, and yet Burke could say of him 
*‘he never dines without creating a famine in the land !” 
His trial lasted seven years ; two hundred Lords marched 
in procession on the opening of it to Westminister HalL 
Hastings was accessible to all natives* 

Berhampur, so called from a Musalman officer Bram- 
pur, who was in one of the Nawab’s armies, is noted for 
its fine barracks. Our military frontier is now at the 
Sutlej, 80 years ago Berhampur was the northern frontier 
station. In 1763 one detachment of the English troops 
occupied Birbhum, another Krishnaghur, white the body 
of the army was between Ghyretty and Kasimbazar. The 
barracks cost in 1765-7 the sum of£ 302,270 ; articles for 
them cost three times as much as in Calcutta, In 1768 
the chief in Council of Kasimbazar appointed a committee 
to investigate into the exorbitant charges made, they 
suspended three covenanted Government officers for over- 
charges, amounting to two lakhs, the difference between 
the cost and charges of the East India Company. It was 
proposed to surround the barracks with a ditch to preveqt 



46 


OALOtTTTA AKD ITS KBIOft&OtrBHOOD 


the soldiers going to Murshidabad and getting drunk, 
but it was found it would have cost a lakh. *' The Seir 
Mutakherim in 1786 states, "the barracks of Berhampur 
are the finest and healthiest any nation can boast of ; 
there are two regiments of Europeans, seven or eight of 
sipahis and fifteen or sixteen cannon placed there, and 
yet I heard men say that the Musalmans were so numer- 
ous at Murshidabad, that brick bats in their hands they 
could knock the English down”. In 1771 Berhampur, 
Chittagang, Dinapur and Allahabad were regarded as the 
four head-quarters in Bengal. The English in letter to 
Suraj-ud-daula in 1768 stated they did not wish to have 
any troops beyond the Karamnassa. George Thomas, 
who came out to India from Ireland as a common sailor, 
and became afterwards a general in the service of the 
Begam Sumru and master of the province of Hurriana, 
died here in 1802 on his way to Calcutta to embark for 
Europe, and is interred in the burial ground. Creighton 
of Gaur, one of the first he established native missionary 
schools in this country, is also buried here , he lived for 
twenty years with the late Charles Grant at Goamatly, 
without a single instance of a painful difference ; he pub- 
lished a plan of the best mode of establishing native schools 
and supported several at his own expense, he connected 
schools with his factories and gave daily instruction to 
his factory servants. He died at the age of forty-two, 
and his friend W. Grant, a kindred spirit, was buried the 
next month, in the same graveyard with him. 

"Little' Henry”, the subject of Mrs. Sherwood’s 
beautiful tale "Little Henry and his bearer”, is also buried 
here. Mrs. Sherwood lived to the east of the burial 
ground. At the time of the great famine of 1771, travel- 
lers were found dead here with money bags in theif hands, 
as they could' not purchase corn with them. Xu 1810, 
consequence of an earthquake the water of the tank here 
turned a dark green colour, and an inui^nse number oif 
Bshi mapy of them weighing from 10 to 18 seeri, floated 



TBE BANKS OF THB BHAOIBATHI 


47 


dead on the surface, they were taken away in carts by 
natives, some were buried and some used for manure. A 
gentleman lived at BerhampUr in 1813, who was very 
anxious to improve the country, and seeing the natives 
carrying the earth in baskets on their heads, he procured 
six wheel barrows instead, which the natives used con- 
stantly before him, but one day congratulating himself on 
advancing their improvement, he saw them carrying the 
wheel barrows on their heads. A theatre was established 
at Berhampur in 1821. A Bible Association was established 
in 1830 and an Agricultural Society in 1837. To the south 
of Berhampur is Gora Bazar inhabited by Musalmans or 
people from the North West, who speak Urdu : to the 
south east of Berhampur two miles the Gheltia Mela is held 
in honour of Roganatb, it is attended by about 20,000 
people. Berhampur was forty years ago the residence of 
General Steward, who used to offer puja to idols and 
worship the Ganges, he lived to an advanced age, was 
well acquainted with the manners of the natives ; his 
Museum in Choringi was opened to the public during the 
last years of his life, he fed one hundred destitute beggars 
daily : he was called “Hindu Stewart”. Like Job Gharnock 
he married a Hindu, and she made a Hindu of him. At 
Vishnupur human sacrifices were formerly offered. 

Kasimbazar is so named from Kosim Khan who 
founded it : it gives its name to the island, of Kasimbazar, 
included between the Bhagirathi from Nudiya up and 
the Jelling! ; tigers and boars abounded in the neighbour- 
hood thirty years ago, as also birds of beautiful plumage ; 
Lord Valentia however states that there were no tigers 
there in 1802, owing to the increase of population and 
the rewards of ten Rs. per head for every tiger, offered by 
Government. At different periods. Government spent a 
lakh and a half in Bengal in rewards for killing tigers ; 
it was a regular charge at the Kacheri of Hugly. Kasim- 
bazar is now three miles from the river. The Decennial 
Settlement brought much laud into cnltivation : an Indian 



48 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 


traveller of 1811 writes: — **Kasimbazar is noted for its 
silk hosiery, coras, and inimitable ivory work, but as to 
the greater part of its surface, it is a wilderness inhabited 
only by beasts of prey, at twelve or eleven miles from 
Berhampur, an almost impervious jungle extends for a 
considerable space denying entrance to all but tigers”. 
Bolts, a factor, at Kasimbazar, made nine lakhs by trade 
between 1760 and 1767. Burton in 1632 writes of “the city 
of Kasimbazar where the Europeans have their factories, 
the country affords great quantities of silk and muslins”. 
Kasimbazar was a great mart, in former days, for trade. 
Reynal remarks, “Kasimbazar is grown rich by the ruin 
of Malda and Rajmahal : it is the general market of 
Bengal silk, a great quantity of silk and cotton stuffs are 
manufactured here, they arc circulated through part of 
Asia of the unwrought silk 3 or 400,000 lbs. weight is^ 
consumed in the European manufactories”. The cotton 
trade is almost extinct there now, owing to the cheap 
importations from England, but 500,000 pieces of Kora 
are manufactured there at present, amounting in value 
to thirty lakhs. In 1677 Mr. Marshall eniployed in the 
factory here was the first European who learned Sanskrit, 
he made a translation of the Sri Bhagavat into English 
which is preserved in the British Museum. A melancholy 
instance of Sati was witnessed here in 1742 by Holwell in^ 
the time of Sir F. Russel’s chiefship, in the case of the 
widow of Ram Ghand Pandit, a Mahratta ; her friends, 
the merchants and Lady Russel, did all they could to 
dissuade^er : but to show her contempt of pain, she put 
her finger in the fire and held it there a considerable time, 
she then with one hand put fire in the palm of the other, 
sprinkled incense on it and fumigated the Brahmans, and 
as soon as permission to burn arrived from Hoseyn Shah 
Fauzdar of Murshidabad,she mounted the pyre with a firm 
step. In 1681 out of ;C230,000 tent by the E^st India Com* 
patty for investment to Bengal, ^140,000 of it was sent to Ka- 
slmbazar, that year Job Gbarhock was chief there. In 1620- 



THE BANKS OT THE BHAOIBATHI 


49 


the English had commercial agents at Patna, and in 1658, 
they had them at Kasimbazar^ Hugly and Balasore : 1767, 
one of the members of Council was appointed to be chief 
of the trade at Kasimbazar. In 1753 Warren Hastings 
was a commercial assistant here and devoted much of his 
time to Persian in 1757 on the place being taken by Suraj- 
ud>daula, who encamped with his whole army opposite 
to it, he was made prisoner and sent to Murshidabad : 
the English had a fort then here, which at the time of the 
battle of Plasi was more regular and tenable than that 
of Calcutta, it had four bastions ; in that year Suraj-ud- 
daula came before the fort with his whole army, and Mr. 
Watts recommended that a fortification should be erected 
at Murshidabad : the court of Directors in reply stated, 
that in subordinate settlements they could not bury the 
Company’s capital in stone walls, that their servants were 
so thoroughly possessed of military ideas, as to forget that 
their employers were merchants and trade their principal 
object. The Commercial Resident here had a salary of 
Rs. 50,160 ; the filatures and machinery of the East India 
Company were worth twenty lakhs; in 1768 It was 
recommended that European troops should not be brought 
nearer to Calcutta, than Kasimbazar, on account of 
the climate of Calcutta being so unfavourable to European 
health. 

The French had a factory at Kashimbazar, as also 
at Malda, the one at Kasimbazar is now marked only by 
ruined walls and an old flagstaff, it is called Farasdanga 
the native population have deserted it for the more profit- 
able settlement of Khagra and Gora Bazar. The French 
still own Farasdanga, though they make no use of it ; the 
site is occupied by native distilleries. They had a factory 
at a Saidabad, where Duplcix lived a long time, he was 
the Louis Philppe of the French interest in Bengal, as his 
great aim was to raise French power through the influence 
of French commerce. Dupleix gained twenty lakhs in 
India and originated the French private trade therein a 
4 



60 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUBUOOD 


with all his attention to business he indulged in frivolity, 
he has been seen in the streets of Chanderpagar with a 
fiddle in his hand and an umbrella over his head, running 
naked with some other young fellows and playing tricks 
at every door. Saidabad has an Armenian church built 
about 1757 and in Tieffenthaler’s time, a great number 
of Armenian merchants lived in beautiful houses here and 
carried on trade. From Saidabad Clive wrote the memor- 
able letter to the Council on the 6th May, 1766, apprising 
them of the conspiracy among the officers, and their 
determination to lay down their commissions since the 
Company had reduced their batta. From Saidabad 
embankments extend to Bhamenea ten miles distant, they 
used to cost annually for repairs over a lakh: 1767 
Murshidabad was near being washed away in consequece 
of the embankments breaking down. In 1838 a meeting 
of natives was held at the house of the Hon’ble W. 
Melville, Governor General’s Agent, to establish an Eng- 
lish School, they subscribed Rs.*6000 : the school flourished 
for a year ; English, Bengali, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit 
were taught ; but when those Europeans, who took an 
interest in it left the station, it dwindled away. 

Murshidabad is of earlier date than the time of 
Murshid Kuli-Khan, its reputed founder, but rather 
embellisher; he made it the capital in 1714 as being 
a central place. Akbar, writes Tieffenthaler, founded 
Murshidabad and had sent a body of troops to a place East 
of it, called Akbarpur. Every part of Murshidabad suggests 
^eas connected with a fallen Musalman dynasty; in 1759 it 
was 5 riffles long and 2 ^ miles broad. Since the removal for 
the revenue courts and capital from it to Calcutta in 1772, 
Murshidabad has been in a state of rapid decline. The 
reason of the removal was — that appeals were thus made 
to Calcutta direct, and only one establishment kept up — 
the records and treasure were insecure in Murshidabad, 
which ‘*a few dakoits might enter and plttpder with ease”. 
Hastings also assigned a reason that thereby Calcutta 



THE BANES OF THE BHAOIBATHI 


51 


would be increased in wealth and inhabitants, which 
would cause an increase of English manufactures and give 
the natives a better knowledge of English customs. The 
palmy days of Murshidabad have passed away — the times 
when the Koran was the only code, when the Nazim 
decided in all capital cases, and when a court held on 
Sunday was the only appeal from the provinces ; — when the 
despotic principles of Moslem Governments rendered the 
courts rather instruments of power than of justice — when 
all eyes were turned to Murshidabad at the centre of 
Government and source of favour. The splendor of a 
court has faded away and also the outlay of money con- 
nected with it ; we find that on the marriage of Siraj-ud- 
daulah, Ali Verdy kept a continued feasting for a month 
in his palace at Murshidabad : all comers were welcome, 
every family in the city rich and poor partook of his 
hospitality, by receiving several times tables of dressed 
victuals called turahs none of which cost less than Rs. 25 
and thousands of them were distributed in Murshidabad, 
On the golden principle of *‘thc greatest good of the 
greatest number for the greatest length of time,’^ we think 
the English rule preferable to the Moslem in Bengal, 
though we do not attach so much value to the tranquility, 
which is the result of English sway, for as an author re- 
marks, *‘We have given the Hindus tranquility — but it is 
the tranquility of stagnation, agitated by no living spring, 
ruffled by no salutary breeze.” It cannot be questioned 
that even an imperfect native government may be much 
better for a country on the whole than a foreign one, 
though the latter be theoretically better constituted : we 
do not however apply this remark to India ; the Hindus 
have by the English Government been delivered from the 
caprice of such monsters as Siraj-ud-daulah, who did not 
scruple to bury one of his mistresses alive between walls 
at Murshidabad, and was so profigate that no woman’s 
virtue was safe. Golam Hussein gives a faithful and lively 
^picture of the licentiousness and despotism that prevailed 



^2 OALOUTTA AUD ITS NBIttHBOUBHOOD 

at Muahidabad. Murahid Kuli used to compel defaulting. 
Zcminders to put on loose trowscrs^ into wTiich were 
introduced live cats. Siraj-ud-daulah murdered persons 
in open day in the streets of Murshidabad. There are^, 
however^ some bright features in this dark picture, and 
which it would be well were the English Government to 
imitate. The Musalman sway in the Murshidabad re- 
minds us that among the results vv^ere — wealth was scat- 
tered over the country ; the courts of the Rajahs formed 
the centre of influence within their respective domains : 
the Musalmans made India their home, they forgot the 
country whence they came, and made themselves part of the 
people j though they plundered the people, they did not 
send away the money to foreign lands ; their wealth chiefly 
circulated in India, in which they invited their country- 
men to settle and increase the population ; the Nawabs 
mixed with the people and allowed them access. The Seir 
Mutakherim (written 1786) remarked— ‘‘of all the English 
that have carried away princely for tunes from this 
country, not one of them has ever thought of showing his 
gratitude to it, by sinking a well, digging a pond, planting, 
a public grove, raising a caravanserai or building a 
bridge”. The revenue collected from the people circula- 
ted among them : large jagirs were granted to nobles, on 
which they settled ; armies of horse were maintained for 
show ; the buildings in Bengal now arc not equal to the 
old ones in magnificence, the remains of stupendous 
causeways, ruins of bridges, and of magnificent stairs on 
the baisks of rivers not replaced by similar undertakings 
of modern date, suggest melancholy reflections on the 
decline of the country this observations arc not so j 
applicable now, however. Numbers of learned ;Arabic 
scholars came from Persia and received endowments and 
patronage. Forster in his travels remarks on this subject,, 
‘'the native princes and chiefs of various^^descriptions, the 
retainers of numerous dependants offered constant employ- 
Q^ent to a vast number of ingenious manufacturet, whid^ 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAGIEATHI 


63 


supplied their masters with gold and silver stuffs curiously 
flowered, plain muslins a diversity of beautiful silks and 
other articles of Asiatic luxury'\ In 1742 the court was 
Tcmoved from Rajmahal to Murshidabad by Ali Verdy 
Khan, in order to watch the English better as also to be 
enabled to contened to more advantage with Mahrattas. 

The great Famine of 1770 caused dreadful havoc at 
Murshidabad ; in April 1770 desolation spread through the 
provinces ; multitude fled to Murshidabad *, 7000 people 
were fed there daily for several months ; but the mortality 
increased so fast that it became necessary to keep a set of 
persons constantly employed in removing the dead from the 
fttreets and roads. At length those persons also died and 
for a time dogs, jackals and vultures were the only scaven- 
gers, The dead were placed on rafts and floated down 
the river, the bearers died from the effluvia, whole villages 
expired, even children in some parts fed on their dead 
parents, the mother on her child. Government has been 
blamed by a certain existing society as the cause of this 
famine : how could they prevent the effects of the rains of 
heaven and the oveflowing of the rivers which caused a 
deficiency of crops ? It is vividly described by Macaulay, 
‘*thc whole valley of the Gange* was filled with misery 
and death. The Hooghly every day rolled thousands of 
corpse close to the porticos and gardens of their English 
conquerors Murshidabad is memorable as the residence 
of the Scats, the bankers of the Bengal Government ; res- 
pecting whom Burke remarked in the House of Commons 
^*that their transactions were as extensive as those of the 
Bank of England''. The emperor of Delhi conferred on 
one of them the title of Jagat Scat, i.c., the banker of the 
world :Jagat Scat kept all the revenue of Bengal in his 
treasury at Murshidabad *, he was the Rothschild of India, 
and though plundered of two millons of money by the 
Mahrattas, when they luted Murshidabad, the loss seemed 
scarcely to be felt by him ; we find in 1680 the Seats were 
a great family end employed in supplying piece goods to 



54 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBZGHBOTTBHOOD 


the English Merchants. Jagat Scat helped Murshid Kulr 
Khan to purchase the continance of his office as Nawab of 
Bengal after the death of Aurangzeb. CHve propbsed Jagat 
Seat as arbiter of the dispute between him and the Nawab : 
he was one of Council of three to the Nawab in Clive’s 
time, and had charge of the receipts and disbursements of 
the Government. The Seats were great friends to the 
English, in whose integrity in commercial transactions 
they had the strictest confidence ; there is a tradition that 
they in common with many other natives were so indig- 
nant with Siraj-ud-daulah for his cruelties, ripping open 
pregnant women through curiosity and drowning persons 
in order to sec their dying struggles — that they lent 
money to the English to enable them to carry on the war 
with the Nawab, and though their money and influence 
they contributed very much to the transfer of the supreme 
power from Siraj-ud-daulah to Mir Jaffir. They used to lend 
Government a crorc at a time. In 1717 there was a family 
of the Seats in Calcutta, who were very instrumental in 
bringing it into the form of a town : but the transfer of the 
scat of Government from Murshidabad to Calcutta led tn 
their decay ; a descendant of Jagat Seat lives at Murshida*^ 
bad, he occupies the residence of his ancestors which 
is in a dilapidated state ; for some time the members of 
the family subsisted by the sale of the family jewels, but 
lately Government has granted the representative of the 
family a pension of Rs. 1200 monthly ; all the family 
papers were destroyed sometime ago by a fire. The Scats 
were Jains and built several Jain temples in Mushidabad. 
Todd sta|^, ^^rnore than half the mercantile wealth of 
India passes through the hands of the Jain laity ; the 
majority of the bankers arc the Jains from Lahore to 
the Ocean”. 

There arc now few ancient edifices in Murshidabad,. 
though a tax of Rs. 8,000 annually was levied for permit- 
ting bricks to be brought from Gaur for buildings in 
Murshidabad. These bricks were enamelled and the^ 



THK BAKKS 07 THB BHAOIBATHI 


55 


natives of Bengal now cannot make bricks equal to those 
that were manufactured at Gaur. The greater part of 
nobles have gone to Delhi or have return to Persia, there 
is not a nobleman there now, who is not connected by 
blood or marriage with the Nawab Nizam, excepting 
Mohammed Reza Khan, who is independent and possesses 
a respectable competency : he is a descedant of the famous 
MuzaflSr Jang, who lived in the time of Warren Hastings* 
There was a mint here, where silver was coined in the 
name of the Emperor; it yielded a revenue of three lakhs 
annually, and was erected by Murshid Kuli Khan in 1704. 
“The East India Company in 1746 paid Murshid Kuli 
Rs. 25 000 for permission to establish a factory at Kasim- 
bazar, for the convenience of having the bullion, which 
they sent from Europe, coined into rupees at the mint,*’ 
which reminds us of what Zelim Sing said to Colncl Todd 
“the time will come when there will be but one sikka 
throughout India”. On the right bank of the river in 
former times there were many houses, the Nawab^s palace 
stood there. The Sadak Bag was famous in 1800 for the 
Nawab’s garden and the College of Fakirs near it called 
Akara Munsaram. The palace of Mir Jaffir stood on the 
right bank of the river, and had accommodation enough 
for three European monarchs. That of Siraj-ud-daulah 
was on the left ; both were fortified with cannon. There 
arc many Karta Bhojas to the east of Murshidabad. Forster 
in 1807 remarks that at the entrance to the town was 
a large and magnificent gateway and a parapet pierced 
with embrasures for cannon, it was probably the remains 
of a fortification erected in 1742 against the Mahrattas, 
who in Ali Verdy^s time plundered the suburbs of Mur- 
shidabad. In 1839 when a meeting was held at Berham-* 
pur in favour of steam communication between England 
and India, twenty members of Nawab^s family were 
present, and the first resolution passed was — that every 
Mahommedan was interested in its success, as shortening 
the period of going to, and returning from Mecca, — and 



56 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


yet when the first river steamer passed Murshidabad the 
native thought it was bhut or goblin breathing out flamegf 
that was come to devour their children. ' 

Mutijil or the lake of pearl (favourite name applied to 
a lake in Kashmir and another in Lahore), is a lovely spot 
south of Murshidabad ; there are only a few arches now 
left of the magnifient palace erected here of black marble 
brought from Gaur ; it was built by Siraj-ud-daulah at an 
enormous expense in order ‘^to indulge his vicious plea- 
sures beyond the reach of control he quitted this palace 
in order to fight the battle of Plasi ; and from the same 
place in 1766 Clive wrote a letter making over five lakhs 
bequeathed to him by Mirjaffir, to a fund since called 
Olivers fund. Hamilton states the Mutijil was ^‘one of the 
windings of the former channel of the Kasimbazar river 
others however think it was commenced for the purpose 
of making bricks for the houses* which at one time covered 
the piece of land surrounded by the Mutijil : some years 
ago the Nawab was Induced at the recommendation of the 
Hon. W. Melville, the resident; to establish an experi- 
mental agricultural garden there, Tieffenthaler writes} 
“The Governor of Bengal resides at Colcria and one mile 
from it is a great and magnificent palace called Mutijil 
from the clearness of its watcrs’\ When the building 
was nearly ready, Siraj-ud-daulah invited Ali Verdy to 
see it, he locked up Ali Verdy in a room and refused to 
release him unless the Zemindars there paid a fine from 
their lands : Ali Verdy was obliged to grant it as also to 
give Siraj-ud-daulah the privilege of erecting a granary, 
which J^e inabitants called Munsurganj or the granary 
of the victorious, i.e., of Siraj-ud-daulah who outwitted his 
grand-father. The piece of land, surrounded by the 
Mutijil in the form of a horse shoe, was formerly covered 
with houses. In its neighbourhood Lord Teinmouth once 
lived, he devoted his days there to civil business and his 
evenings to solitude, studying Urdu, Persian, Arabic and 
Bengali, after dinner when reposing, an intelligent native 



THB BANKS OF THE BHAGIBATHI 


67 


used to entertain him with stories in Urdu : he carried on 
an extensive intercourse with the natives and superin- 
tended a small farm : he writes of it, ‘^hcre I enjoy cooing 
doves, whistling black birds and purling streams, I am 
quite solitary, and, except once a week, see no one of 
Christian complexion.’’ He amused himself in improving 
the Nawab’s grounds and enjoying the recreation of music 
during the years 1771, 2, and 3. The Puna was the annual 
settlement of the revenue of Bengal, when the principal 
Zeminedars and all the chief people of the country 
assembled at Mutijil in April and May : it was abolished 
in 1772, because it was found that the amils or contractors 
rack rented : the Zemindars used to come to the Puna with 
the state of amrahs, it was viewed as an act of fealty or 
homage to theNawab of Murshidabad and the annual rent 
roll of the povinces was then settled ; Khelats were distri* 
buted each year ; in 1767 the Khelat disbursement amoun- 
ted to Rs. 46,750 for Clive and his Counccl : Rs. 38,800 
for the Nizamat : Rs. 22,634 for people of the treasury : 
Rs, 7,352 to the Zemindar ofNudiya : Rs. 1,200 to theRaja 
of Birbhum and Rs. 734 to the Raja of Bishenpur : the sum 
expended on Khelats that year amounted to Rs, 216,870. 
The practice of distributing these Khelats was of long 
standing, as they were given to Zemindars on renewal 
of their sunnuds and as a confirmation of their appoint* 
ment ; to the officers of the Nizamat they were an honorary 
distinction ; the people held the Puna in great esteem, 
and Clive, regarding it as an ancient institution, raised a 
special revenue collection to defray the expenses of it ; 
but in 1769 the Court of Directors prohibited the giving 
presents at the Puna. In 1767 at the Puna the Nawab was 
seated on the Musnud, Vcrclst, the Governor-General, 
was on his right, and recommended it in the strongest 
manner to all the ministers and land-holders, to give ail 
possible encouragement to the clearing and cultivating of 
lands for mulberry. It must have been a splendid sight 
when amid all the pomp of oriental magnificence Khelats 



68 


CALOVTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


were presented to the Rajahs or Nawabs of Dhaka, Dinaj- 
pur, Hugly, Purnea, Tippera, Silhet, Rangpur, pirbhum, 
Bishenpur, Panchete, Rajmahal and Bhaglipur ; a form 
like the Puna is still kept up at each Zemindar’s Kacheri. 
Newish Mahommed, nephew of AliVcrdy is buried at 
Mutijil in a mosque built by him ; at his funeral there 
was great lamentation of the people, as he was very chari- 
table, he could not bear to be on bad terms with any one. 
Ecra-med-Daula, the brother of Siraj-ud-daulah, is also 
buried here, ‘*on his death the city of Murshidabad looked 
like an immense hell filled with people in mourning”. 
The East India Company’s Political Residents lived at 
Mutijil and several of them made large fortunes there ; 
one of them returned to Europe in 1767, having, as is said, 
daring his three years of Residency, accumulated property 
to the amount of nine million of stivers. 

On the right bank of the river opposite Mutijil is the 
burial place of the Nawabs ; here Siraj-ud-daulah and Ali 
Verdy arc buried side by side. Forster in 1781 mentions 
that mullahs were employed here to offer prayers for the 
dead, and that the widow of Siraj-ud-daulah used often 
to come to the tomb and perform certain ceremonies of 
mourning in memory of her deceased husband the expen- 
ses of the burial ground arc defrayed by Government ; the 
river, two miles south of Mutijil, formerly took the shape 
of a horse-shoe until the neck was cut through at con- 
siderable expense to the North-East of Mutijil is the 
Kuttera described by Hodges, a traveller of 1780, as 
grand seminary of Musalman learning, 70 feet square, 
adorned tif" a mosque which rises high above all the 
surrounding building ; near it is the Topikhana where the 
Nawab’s artillery was kept, it formed one of the entrances^ 
to Murshidabad a cannon was placed between two young 
trees, they have grown up, and their branches have lifted 
the cannon from the ground. It has two splendid minarets 
70 feet high, Jafir Khan was an humble man,^nd is buried 
at the foot of the stairs leading up, so as to be trampled 



THB BANKS OF THB BHAGIBATHl 


69 


on by people going up this mosque was constructed 
after the model of the great mosque at Mecca. 

At Kalkapur, a long struggling village to the south of 
MutijiJ, are the few remains of what was once the Dutch 
factory, and the scene of gaiety. In 1757 Vynett was the 
chief of it, he was very kind to the English when the 
factory of Kasimbazar was taken by the Musalmans : the 
burial ground still remains. The river formerly flowed 
by Kalkapur, now it is at a considerable distance it also 
ran behind Beharampur, the Dutch had a mint there. A 
visitor to it 1825 writes, ‘‘Kalkapur is now in a neglected 
state the courtyard is overrun with jungle, and the bark- 
ing of the paria dogs were our only greeting on entering a 
place which for many years was a scene of gaiety in the 
evening and of incessant application to business during 
the hours of every returning day Stavorinus describes 
the Dutch in 1770 as rising at 5, then breakfast, then busi- 
ness until noon, after which dinner, and the afternoon 
siesta or nap until 4 o’ clock, from that to six business 
again, from six to nine relaxation, when supper was taken 
and they went bed at 11. Tavernier, in 1666, visited 
Kasimbazar and was well received by Van Wachtlendonk, 
Director of the Dutch factories in Bengal ; the Nawab 
then lived at Murshidabad : the present Nawab’s family 
is of Arab origin. The Dutch had intercourse with Bengal 
at an early period ; Warwick, the founder of the Dutch 
East India Company, made an alliance with several Rajahs 
of Bengal in the beginning of the 15th century ; they settled 
in Bengal about 1625. In Tavernier’s time the Dutch 
kept up ^to 800 natives employed in their factory at 
Kalkapur. 

Tieffcnthalcr, 1770, describes Murshidabad as having 
an immense number of brick stucco houses, adorned 
a great number of gardens and fine buildings, and that 
the Ganges there had an astonishing number of barks and 
boats on it. Even as late as 1808 Mr. Ward thus writes- 
of it, ‘^Murshidabad is full of Moors, very populous, very 



60 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOURHOOD 


dusty, except a few large brick houses and a few mosques, 
the rest of the town consists of small brick houses or huts in- 
to which an European creeps ; for near two miles the river 
was lined with trading vessels**. Now all is in rapid decay 
and the chief object to attract the traveller is the New 
Palace, which is 425 feet long, 200 feet wide, 80 feet high ; 
it has a splendid marble floor, the banqueting hall is 290 
feet long, with sliding doors encased in mirrors. Colonel 
Macleod was the architect of it, and the only European en- 
gaged, the natives executed the work. The trade of Mur- 
shidabad was formerly very great ; the Pachautra or custom 
office books state, that, as late as Ali Verdy’s time, 875,000 
lbs. worth of raw silk were entered there, exclusive of the 
European investments which were not entered there, as 
being either duty free or paying duty at Hugly. Murshi- 
dabad is now famous for the manufacture of ivory toys 
and chessmen ; in 1838, an English Newspaper was begun 
there called the Murshidabad News, it met with a good 
circulation, the Court of Directors subscribed for 10 copies 
of it, but afterwards it became scurrilous and indulged in 
personal abuse, the consequence of which was that it be- 
came extinct in 1839. 

Murshidabad was noted in former times for the profi- 
gacy of its court, we dare not pollute these pages with a 
description of the vile impurtics of Serferez Khan. TheSeir 
Mutakherim describes the court of Murshidabad as a kind 
of Sodom j the women of the court talked publicly of 
subjects which should never pass the door of the lips. A 
regard to the feelings of survivors prevents us from referr* 
ing to the orgias of late occupants of the Musnud. Wc trust 
the present Nawab will set a different example ; the length 
of his title ‘‘Mantizam U1 Malak Moshen Ud Daula Fari- 
dau Jan Syad Munsur AU Khan Bahadur Narset Jang’*, 
fully rivals Spanish titles. May be imitated the example of 
a former Nawab, Suja Khan * Vho supported at Murshi* 
dabad all travellers of intellectual and moral worth, and 
encouraged merit in every way**. Ali Verdy also is a 



THB BiLNHS QW THB BMAGIBATHI 61 

worth object of imitation in the attention he paid to deve- 
loping the resources of Bengal. 

The present court has about 50 eunuchs attached to the 
Nazi and the female relatives living within the Kela or the 
enclosure ; inside which the authority of the civil ofRcers^ 
of Government docs not extend ; these eunuchs come from 
different places in Abyssinia, from Tigra, Dancali, Nubia 
and the Galla country. 

Siraj'ud-daulah kept in his seraglio a female guard 
compose of Tartar, Georgian, and Abyssinian women, 
armed with sabres and targets. Murshidabad is noted 
on account of the festival of the Bcira which was introduc- 
ed by Siraj-ud-daulah, who used to have boat large enough 
to hold 100 men, filled with earth and flowers, and floated 
down the river with lamps, while the shores were illumi- 
nated — little could be expected of him, his mother was a 
notorious adulteress, and himself, when governor of 
Kattak, plundered the rich and shocked all decency, so 
that a conspiracy was formed against him. 

Teretikona lies on the right side of the river facing 
Murshidabad ; it has an image of Cintua, a goddess wor- 
shipped there in the temple of Kriteswari or Durga ; it 
has declined after the withdrawl of Government patro- 
nage ; it is mentioned in the Bhabishya-Purana, Debpara 
opposite to Murshidabad had a Mosque and Mausoleum 
erected by Shuja Adin, in which he was buried, A.D. 1739. 
He was a man of general philanthropy and unbounded 
liberality. He made a beautiful garden at Debpara, which 
he called Ferreh Bag (the garden of happiness) to which he 
retired in the summer with his seraglio in order to indulge 
in every luxury. 

Azimganj is also opposite Murshidabad, the city for- 
merly extended on the west bank of the river from this to 
Siraj-ud-daulah’s tomb. Dc Perron describes the river as 
dividing the city into two parts. There arc several fine 
Jain temples here ; the Jains arc a most enterprising mer- 
cantile race and many of them here emigrated from Jaud- 



-62 


OJlLO0TTA and its nbighboubbood 


pur, Marwar and Hariana ; some have settled jis far as 
Assam : the north of Murshidabad is occupied chiefly 
by Jain merchants, who speak Hindi ; the middle is occu- 
pied by Musalmans, and the south by Bengalis. 

Bhagwangola is divided into old Bhagwangola and new 
Bhagwangola, twelve miles distance from each other ; the 
former was the port of Murshidabad in Ali Verdy’s time, 
and supplied the city with provisions from the districts to 
the cast of the Ganges. The Ganges anciently flowed to 
the west of it ; now it is five miles west of the river. In 
1760 Clive sailed down the Ganges to Bhagwangola and 
then crossed to Murshidabad. Oats, gram and rice are 
brought to it from Rangpur, Dinajpur, &c. &c. Surup 
Dutt, the ghat mangi here, was for many years the leader 
of the Thugs of Dhaka, Furidpur, &c. &c. He used to 
embark travellers in the boats of his comrades and then 
have them murdered. In former times the neighbour- 
hood of Bhagwangola must have been exceedingly popu- 
lous, as there arc evident remains of a very extensive town 
or a scries of large villages now overgrown with forests, and 
dotted with numerous tanks and other signs of population. 
Several English officers were buried here, but their tombs 
have been swept away by the river. 

Jangipur or Jehangirpur, because founded by jehangir 
the Emperor, was long a seat of the silk manufacture 
of the East India Company : the company’s factory 
was sold to a Mr. Larullctto in 1835 for Rs. 51,000 the 
silk filatures were erected in 1773. The first attempt of 
the East IKdia Company was at Budge Budge, which did 
not succeed. Grant in his Essay on India adduces the silk 
manufacture as an instance that the Hindus arc not un- 
changeable ; the East India Company introduced the 
Italian mode of winding silk, and the natives have al- 
together dropt their own method ; in 1757 the East India 
•Company sent out to Bengal, a Mr. Wilder^ well acquain- 
ted with the silk manufacture, to examine into the different 
qualities of the Bengal silk ; he resided at Kasimbazar, 



TBB BANKS OF THE BHAOIBATHl 03 

then the Company’s chief silk manufactory, where he died 
in 1761 : in 1765 Mr. Ponchow was appointed to Kasim* 
bazar to carry on the improvements begun by Mr. 
Wilder : Italians were sent out first. Lord Valentia, in 
1802, describes Jangipur as the greatest silk station of the 
East India Company and employing 3,000 persons. The 
west bank of the river is best for the mulberry cultivation, 
as it requires a black soil. The East India Company’s 
filatures did not extend beyond 26* N. Lat., as in a more 
northerly direction the soil and air become too dry for 
the mulberry and silk worms. Napoleon’s Berlin Dcvrccs, 
prohibiting the exportation of silk from Italy to England, 
gave a great stimulus to the cultivation of the Silk trade 
in Bengal : a meeting was immediately held in London 
and a request was made to the East India Company to 
supply England with silk direct from India. Mr. Williams 
was resident here and died in 1822, he was a great friend 
to education. Jangipur was formerly famous for *its pretty 
English garden j’ in 1808 the river near it was dried up so 
that gharis crossed it, owing to chur at the mouth of the 
Bhagirathi, which caused the Ganges to flow into the 
Jellinghi, the lowest depth of water here in the dry season 
is about two feet ; in the Jellinghi, in 1832, a thousand boats 
were waiting at the mouth to be lightened before they 
could proceed on account of the shallowness of the wetcr — 
and yet Government levy a tax of Rs. 150,000 per annum 
on boats passing up this river in order to keep it clear, the 
same sum on the Matabanga and Jellinghi, while little 
trouble is taken by Government officer : to keep the river 
clear. Alowing Rs. 3 as the average toll for each boat, 
this shews that on an average above 50,000 boats pass 
Jangipur annually. 

Suti is memorable for the battle of Gheria fought near 
it, 1740, in which Ali Verdy defeated Serferez Khan at the 
head of 30,000 cavalry and infantry and a numerous train 
of artillery ; and for a battle in 1763, which lasted 4 hours, 
and in which Mirkasim was defeated, though at the head 



64 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NaiaBBOtTBHOOD 


of 12 battalions of slpahls 15,000 horse and 12 cannon ; had 
the English lost this battle they would have be):n driven 
out of Bengal, as Mir Kasim’s troops were drilled accord- 
ing to European discipline. Three Thags were arrested 
here in 1836 by Gapt. Louis, two were father and son, one 
man confessed that in one expedition he and his gang had 
committed fifty murders between Murshidabad and Bar. 
Near Suti an excavation has been made to join the Ganges 
and Bhagirathi ; when first made it was only a few yard 
wide, but the stream was nosooner admitted than it 
quickly expanded to as many hundred yards : in the year 
after its completion not a trace of its existence remained, 
the middle of one of the principal streams of the Ganges 
is now pointed out as the spot where the excavation was 
made ; between Suti and Kalgang forty square miles of 
land have been washed away by the river in a few years. 
Siraj-ud-daulah alarmed at the capture of Chandernagar 
and afraid that the English would bring their ships up the 
Padma and into the Bhagirathi, sunk vessels near Suti to 
prevent it. In 1839 it was proposed to Government to 
form a new zillah, of which Suti was to be the capital, six 
thannahs from Murshidabad and eight from Bhagalpur 
were to form it. Tavernier, the celebrated traveller, who 
visited Kasimbazar in 1665, mentions that there was a 
sand bank before Suti, which rendered it impassable in 
January, so that Bernier was obliged to travel by land 
from Rajmahal to Hugly. In De Perron’s time Suti was 
famous for the tomb of a Fakir, Morte Zeddin. 

The extent to which this article has reached forbids uS' 
to take notice now of Gaur with all its interesting associa- 
tions connected with the history of 2000 years. The banks 
of the Bhagirathi in 1864 present widely different scenes 
from what they did in 1746. Since that period the crescent 
has waned and Moslem pride has been laid low — the Sati 
fires have been extinguished and Ganga’ stream is no 
longct polluted with infanticide — the fame of Nudiya and 
its Sanskrit Colleges is passing away and yielding the palm^ 



THE BANKS OF THE BHAOIRATHI 


§5 


to the superior influence of western science and literature 
— there are no longer Kazis to sentence men to death for 
abusing fakirs, or governors like Murshid Kuli Khan to 
send Korans of their own writing with valuable offerings 
to Mecca and Medina — travellers now pass the banks of 
the Bhagirathi by night and defenceless women may travel 
from Calcutta to Delhi without fear of molestations. The 
future opens out a bright scene on the banks of the Bhagi- 
rathi — when Brahmanism will be in Bengal, as Buddhism 
is now, **a thing of the past'’, — when Gospel light and its 
handmaid the English language and literature shall be 
diffused far and wide, — when Municipal institutions. 
Colleges, Agricultural Societies, Zillah and town Libraries 
shall have dispersed the terror of Mofussil life, — when 
railroads intersecting the country shall have helped to 
scatter to the winds all local prejudices — and when the 
banks of the Bhagirathi, like the banks of the Rhine or 
Tames, shall be ornamented with villas, country seats, 
and all the indications of a highly civilized state of soceiety, 
— when the upper classes of English Society in Calcutta — 
instead of being crowded together in their aristrocratic 
mansions in Chowringi, the hot bed of Anglican prejudice 
and the focus of all those who cherish their irrational ex- 
clusiveness towards the natives of this land — shall enjoy 
the quiet and retirement of their dwellings along the course 
of the sacred stream, living thirty or fifty miles from 
Calcutta, but corning daily to it to do business through 
the wonderful facilities of travelling which will then be 
afforded. 


■5 



Calcutta in the olden time — its people 


The present paper : ^‘Calcutta in the olden time — its 
People/’ will refer in a cursory way to the various classes of 
inhabitants of last century (eighteenth century), their social 
status, dress, food, recreations, manners, and diseases. 

Late year have witnessed the annihilation of that 
mighty East India Company, the Empire of the middle 
classes” which so long ruled with absolute sway over 
the East, and whose name was everything in Calcutta 
last century, which survived all the shocks to trade 
under which the Dutch, French and German East India 
Companies sank. It is a question whether it has yet 
been succeeded by a better form of Government, one 
that will guard Indian interests and finances so faithfully 
and which will not allow the rights of natives to be 
sacrificed in order to swell the coffers of Mammon. The 
Company invariably resisted, as far as they could. The 
spirit of political and military aggression, they might have 
been reformed, but destruction was not the remedy : and 
now we fear in spite of themselves and their better prin- 
ciples, the Queen’s Government is imperceptibly drifting 
into a policy like that of Anotria in Italy, whose main 
points were unity, and centralization to the sacrifice of 
local Goifternment, a foreign agency to administer as con- 
querors, and an entirely foreign army to back their views 
out. We know the result now in Italy, in spite of Austrian 
cannons and soldiers, — nationalities will have their sway 
and so it will be in India. 

The East India Company won India, the problem is 
will the Queen’s Government keep it. Without the Gom- 
pany^’s influence at one time it could not have been 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


67 


secured, as Cromwell found when in 1654 he abolished the 
Company, but discerned that the Dutch made such way 
in India and Ceylon that he was obliged to restore the 
charter. The following lines were often quoted on old 
books in reply to people who argued that the best remedy 
for Indian chils was to transfer the Government to the 
Crown — 

I was well, 

I would be better, 

I took physic 
And here I lie. 

The remedy was worse than the disease and the victim 
of empiricism idea. 

St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great at the 
same time that Calcutta was by Job Charnock, both were 
erected in swamps, amid an unhealthy climate, both be- 
came the capitals of mighty empires. How little could 
either of the founders have anticipated that by the year 
1860 both the Anglo-Indian and Russian Empires would 
nearly meet in Asia, separated only by a few hundred 
miles and that Kossacs would have done for one what 
sepoys have effected for the other. 

We want in this antiquarian article to avoid all refe- 
rence as much as possible to questions of the day, which 
now unhappily divide Europeans from natives. Looking 
at the past we have great reason to thank God and take 
courage. The Europeans have greatly improved in 
morals and socially, the natives also have better houses and 
are higher in the social scale : The millionaires of Calcutta 
among the natives are men who have realised their pro- 
perty by trading, like Mutty Lall Sil who rose from being 
a seller of bottles at 8 rupees monthly to be the Rothscjbild 
of Calcutta ; last century had such men as Kanta Baboo, 
Hastings* Dewan, who made such enormous sums by 
bribes. In contrasting Calcutta now with the Calcutta 
of last century wc must take into account the progress of 
things every where ; when wc find so low a state of things 



68 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


among the Europeans in Calcutta last century. Should we 
have found them much higher in London, ta4k of Barweirs 
and Francis’ profligacy, what was it to the Court of George 
the Fourth or that of Versailles *, debaring pleasures were 
common to England and Calcutta — each had its 
Ranelagh. 

The reader of this paper will, we trust, see in compair- 
ing the present with the past, that in various points we 
have improved, not merely the nous changeous rout cela : 
the hand of God ought to be seen in social changes as well 
as in his Revelation or his Book of Nature ; our own 
spirits have been often cheered when discouraged by 
existing evils, in reviewing the past. 

One of the diflSculties of dealing with Old Calcutta is 
the danger of taking instances as examples instead of 
exceptions. Thus any one having known Calcutta would 
have been surprised at the statement of Sir J. Royd to the 
Grand Journey of Calcutta in 1812 that **not a single 
instance of depredation on private property has occured 
during the last six months of magnitude sufficient to be 
brought before you and this Court”. As exculpatory on 
the side as Sir M. Wells on a recent occasion was con- 
demnatory on the other. 

We profess to give only a very brief sketch here of Old 
Calcutta, to enter into the subject fully would fill the 
whole of this Review. We shall as far as possible avoid 
repeating things which are generally known, or drawing 
from the ordinary books which treat of India. Our 
materials are derived from reminiscences of conversation 
with the late Mrs. Ellcrton, who saw Warren Hastings 
carried away bloody from his duel with Francis ; of 
Mr. Herkloz, who has fiscal of Chinsurah in Dutch times, 
of Mr. Blaquiere, &c. &c., and from books of which copies 
now in India are rare, such as Hartly House, the East 
India Chronicles, Sketches Voyages^ Williamson’s Vadc 
Mecum, Kidirley’s and Fay’s Letters, and above all a 
collection of 310 pamphlets on the East Indies and 



OALOTTTTA IK THD OLD7SK TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


69 


China filling 95 volumes. These are invaluable and con- 
tain many statements of great importance relating to 
Calcutta last century. Old Libraries are few, one of the 
best of them was the late Hurkara one, but at an auction 
of books this year rare old volumes were sold for a few 
annas to sirkars, and thus a valuable collection has been 
scattered ; it contained some of the Calcutta newspapers 
of last century which are not now to be had. 

Calcutta in a regular colluvies gentium — the Jew that 
excels the Bengali in cheating — the American with his 
semi-Asiatic habits — the rich Mogul — Marwari merchant — 
the black Portuguese— the muddy-looking East Indian — 
have all made it their residence, but our object in this 
article is chiefly to give a glance at the English in their 
social life. Many estimates have been made at different 
times of the actual population of Calcutta. We give the 
following for 1850 as a standard, and with exception of 
Europeans who have increased, it might stand as an 
average for last century ; this must be borne in mind that 
100,000 Hindoos daily enter and depart from Calcutta. 



Male. 

Female. 

Total. 

Europeans 

4,848 

2,686 

7,534 

Eurosians 

2,472 

2,188 

4,660 

Americans 

499 

393 

892 

Chinese 

699 

148 

847 

Hindoos 

1,65,817 

1,08,689 

2,74,506 

Muhammedans 

72,476 

38,694 

1,11,170 

Other Asiatics 

8,225 

7,229 

15,454 

Total 4,15,063 


The names of residents in Old Calcutta will be known 
best by consulting the monumental inscriptions, for com- 
paratively few then to be returned to their own laud to ease 
and compctence-Micath intervened, and the shattered, 
mouldering monuments in Chowringi, great burial 
groundi **city of the dead’*, arc the only memorials left of 




70 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUBHOOD 


them. Let us make a pilgrimage to the tombs there, the 
well-known Indian names of Becher, Barwell, Beed, Sykes, 
Law Jackson, Hayes, are to be met with. Sir William Jones 

lies buried on it, of whom it is recorded on his tomb; Here 

lies “The mortal part of a man, who feared God, but not 
death, and maintained independence, but sought not 
riches : who thought none below him but the base and 

unjust ; none above him but the wise and virtuous ’’ 

a statement new to the Calcutta people of his day though, 
if we are to believe those marbles “the inhabitants of 
ancient Calcutta were a race of virtuous, industrious, and 
honourable men : of pious and beautiful women, enlivened 
society in general, and afforded every domestic and social 
comfort to husband far distant from the house of early 
consanguinity and the joys of England.” The oldest 
monument is of Job Gharnock, who in 1692 “Mortalitalis 
suoe exuvis deposit reversus est domum suoe octemitats 
Then of his daughter, “Qui per elapsa tot annorum millia 
culpam primaevoe luit Parentis, et luet usque dum enter- 
num stabit”. “In delore paries filios,”— here lies Captain 
Poyning, who most bravely defended the Resolution of 
India-man against thirty sail of the Mahrattah fleet. Those 
were days when Indiamen mounted 20 guns, the crew and 
the passengers were all trained to arms. Cleveland who 
“accomplished by a system of conciliation what could 
never be effected by Military coercion”. Oldham who 
died in 1788 was an undertaker who erected several monu- 
ments in the different burial grounds in Calcutta, and 
particularly in the ground where he himself lies interrad, 
“he was the first undertaker who settled in Bengal ; Tomb 
stones before his time came as bespoke from Madras, he 
first cut stones from the ruins of Gour”. There is an 
inscription over the wife of an Attorney, Jones. 

“Through low in earth your virtuous from decayed, 

My faithful wife my loved Nancy’s laid, 

Xn chastity you kept a husband’s heart. 

To all but him as cold as now thou art”. 



OALOITTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE ?! 

Justice Hyde was one of the Puisne Judges of the 
Supreme Court in which he spent 21 years, longer than 
those Judges ordinarily stay now. — Colonel Kyd distinguish- 
ed for his botanic researches and William Chambers^ Protho- 
notary of the Supreme Court noted for his Persian studies 
and Biblical translation. In the Mission Burial Ground the 
oldest tomb is of 1773 ; in the New Burial Ground of 1793 ; 
in Tirettas Burial Ground 1796 ; the Hospital Burial Ground 
‘'On the bank of the Gungah” 1786 ; X\\q Church oj the 
Virgin 1712 ; the inscriptions Latin, Portuguese, and 
English ; Bytakannah 1787 ; Greek 1777 ; inscriptions in 
Greek ; Orphan Ground^ Howrah 1791. Out of Calcutta the 
oldest tombs are Dum-Dum 1790 ; Barrackpore 1783 ; 
Serampore 1745 ; Ghandernagore 1729, viz. that of Monrient 
Blanchatiere, Director of the French East India Company, 
Ohinaurah 1743 ; and Bandel 1756. 

We knov\} not when Calcutta^ first got the title “City of 
Palaces’*, though last century it was a misnomer in a 
place having no glass to its houses and few verandahs to 
shade off the heat ; in whose streets dead animals were 
to be seen putrifying, and sometimes even human beings. 
Defective as are still the municipal arrangements of 
Calcutta, it is a great improvement on last century, when 
drains three feet deep were reservoirs of filth, sending out 
annually their three hundred and sixty stenches j the 
receptacle of rotting animals ; even human corpses have 
been known to be two days in the streets, before being 
taken away by the police, and thrown into the canals, 

1. The native name of Calcutta (Kalikatta), we believe, was given 
it from Kalighat, but the English metamorphose native names sadly 
thxm-^Mannakali point le oalJeci melancholy point, — Suraje Daula was 
called Sir Roger Daula : they called all natives Gentoos, according to 
Valtaire a oontraotion of gentiles. — Kedjeri pots were so called from Kodjeri 
where crockery was abundantly supplied to the shipping — A native 
went by the name in 1780 of Sam Chakrabarti t Where is this to end ? 
We have Dover Village and Shrimp Channel marked on the old maps 
South of Calcutta— where are these 7 How much better to keep to 
pennaB0iil native paxoes. 



72 


OALOUTTA AlHD ITS NBlGHBOFEHOOD 


In some cases they were left for the jackals to make a 
two days’s meal of them. 

The following verse, taken from Atkinson’s Poem, the 
City of Palaces, well describe its then state : — 

Calcutta ! What was thy condition then ? 

An anxious, forced existence, and thy site 
Embowering jungle, and roxious fen, 

Fatal to many a bold aspiring wight : 

On every side tall trees shut out the sight ; 

And like the Upas, nor some vapours shed ; 

Day blazed with heat intense, and murky night 
Brought damps excessive, and a feverish bed ; 

The revellers a eve were in the morning dead. 

‘‘Worse than Batavia, thou west then, a tomb ; 

What are thou now^ amidst thy various brood ? 
Though unincumbered by forest’s gloom, 

Thou robbes beauty of its eloquent blood. 

Youth of its lustre, and the opening bud 
Of infancy is blasted in thy view. 

Fell us the vampire in its thirstiest mood : 

All ranks alikes thy direful influence rue : 

Thou banc of lovely looks and health’s inspiring hue”. 

No wonder that the Europeans, gradually migrated 
from the Belgravia of that day — Tank Square,— and took 
up their abodes in Chowringi “out of town” j The 
common soubriquet was “the settlement”, and its inhabi- 
tants «Iled themselves, “the exiles,” — though never did 
live in such luxury, and in so many cases forget home and 
all its associations. 

Viewing the rapid succession of residents and the 
“Voice from the tomb” we need not be surprised at £u* 
ropeans being deterred from coming to Calcutta last 
century — at its being regard as a land of exile and death. 
Gladwin gives the following view as entertained even by 
the Mussulmans of Bengal. “In former reigns the climate 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS PEOPLE 


73 


of Bengal on account of the badness of the water, was 
deemed inimical to the constitution of Moguls and other 
foreigners ; and only those officers who laboured under 
the royal displeasure were stationed there, so that this 
fertile soil, which enjoys a perpetual spring was considered 
as a gloomy prison, the land of spectres, the seat of desease, 
and the mansion of death. The ministers of state and 
the Dewans appropriated the greatest past of these valu- 
able lands to tankahs for \\\t jaigeers of the mansibadars^ SO 
that the amount collected in the khaha ivas so inconsiderable y 
as to he inadequate to the demands of the Nizamut troops ; 
which deficiency was supplied from the treasury of Delhi 
and by tankhas on other Soobahs”. But we find in 1757 
the subsequent of ‘^the terrestrial paradise’^ was applied to 
it, this certainly could not be stated of it by Europeans, 
—but they had chiefly to blame themselves ; with tables 
groaning under the weight of heavy joints of meat, washed 
down with Arrack-Punch, it is not surprising to find that 
one-third of the cases in hospital arose from liver com- 
plaint, We do not quite understand what is meant by 
‘‘the hot winds of Calcutta”, a fertile source disease so 
often referred to by old writers there. “When the hot 
winds are abroad the angel of death is busy in all quar- 
ters ; and though numbers survive, the devastations arc 
aweful. There is existence only supportable in the morn- 
ing and evening ; and the whole European people droop 
the head and dissolution solely occupies their thoughts’^ 
In reading old accounts of heat in Calcutta, such as that 
it was usual to throw water on the wheels of carriages an 
hour before going out, also to pour water on stones for 
coolness, we must remember the heat was not greater then 
than now, but persons had no means of alleviating it, 
excepting charming their linen, as the Judges of the 
Supreme Court did three or four times a day during 
Omichand’s trial j it was doubtless the air that blew hot 
when the houses were all opened, no punkhas, no tarries, 
to escape from the horror of which our predecessors rented 



74 


OALdUTTA AND ITS NEtQBBOVEHOOl) 


houses al the so-called healthy villages of Baraset and 
Chinsurah, where, seated behind the felted canvas, which 
in early times served purpose of cuscus tattieSy they refreshed 
themselves with gallons of Arrackpunh and country beer, 
to keep off the effects of the climate, and remedy the debi- 
litating influence of copious perspiration. 

Ives gives the statistics of the Calcutta hospital from 
the ships in 1757 between February 8th and August 8th 
of that year 1140 patients were received, ot those 54 were 
for scurvies, 302 bilious feners, and 56 bilious cholie ; 52 
men hurried. Between August 7th and November 7th, 
717 fresh patients were taken in, of those 147 were in 
putrid fevers, and 155 in putrid flexes, 101 were buried. 
No wonder for in the same year Dr. Bocue remarks of the 
fevers in Calcutta — ^^bleeding was commonly used in fever 
cases’’.^ The rains were the deadly time in Calcutta, and 
particularly for new arrivals. Ship’s crews in the river then 
used to lose one-fourth of their crews, or 300 men, chiefly 
owing however to their exposure to night fogs, and to the 
punch houses, though the stoppages at Diamond Harbour, 
laid the foundation of the disease of the majority ; survey 
was almost universal, there were no Agri-Horticultural 
Societies in those days to supply vegetable seeds. 

For improving the Sanitary condition of Calcutta, the 
Lottery Committee did much. Wc find that as early as 
1794 there were Lottery Commissioners : in that year they 
advertised for a benevolent chariatable purposes a lottery 
of 10,000 tickets at 32 Rupees each, and some of our best 

2. ThfIMs an important point in connection with the amalgamation 
of the armies ; all the old medical writers on Calcutta state that mw 
comers are most liable to the diseases of the country. Dr. Lind in his 
celebrated work in tropical diseases published in 1776 afErms, that **by 
\ength o£ time tVve oonetitution of Europeans becomes Beasonod to the 
East and West Indies olimatea, it it ia not injured by repeated attaoka of 
Sioknesson the first arrival**. Still the fact remains the Europeans can 
nbt brifig up a healthy offspring in the plains of India, An old soldier 
44 years in India told us that he considered one soldier seasoned after 
three years was equal to two recruits. 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDEN TIME- — ITS TEOPtB 


76 


streets are owing to their funds. The English knew noth- 
ing sanitaria last century, Barasat, Chittagong and St. 
Thom at Madras were the places for change of air. W. 
Hastings, Sir R. Chambers and others used to go to Bircul 
near Hijii for sea-balhing ; the remains of their Bunga- 
lows are still to be '^een there ; Sukhsagar was another 
retreat. 

Much of the disease in Calcutta and in other parts of 
India has been owing to the English not conforming their 
mode of living, dress, &c. to the climate. Anglo-Saxon in 
every part of the world has wished to carry his home system 
in with him, he is the Topi-wala in Calcutta as in London ; 
he is like the Dutch at Batavia, who in the swamps made 
canals or fetid ditches run through their capital because 
Amsterdam had them, — the results were pestilential fever, 
hence the canals have slain more Dutch in Java than the 
swords of the natives. We find Calcutta people warned in 
1780 ; ‘Trom the many sudden deaths ‘which have happe- 
ned lately, gentlemen should be cautious not to eat too 
freely during the continuance of the heat (June;) the 
Surgeon of an India man ^pired in the street after eat- 
ing a hearty dinner of beef, the thermometer was at 

But last century tropical countries were generally 
unhealthy Jamaica formerly buried to the amount of the 
whole numbers of its white inhabitants once in five 
years ; Batavia lost one-fifth of its Dutch population annu- 
ally, the Portuguese lost all their European Missionaries 
in Guinea, and found it necessary to raise up a class of 
black prints ; one-third of the Europeans died annually in 
the African factories. 

No wonder fever was prevalent in Calcutta. People 
slept on the ground floor ; few houses had upper stories, 
though the first floor was raised and was approached by 
a flight of steps. There was a disease common to the lower 
classes of Europeans called the Barbers^ a species of palsy, 
owing to the exposure to the land winds after a fit 
of intoxication. Abscesses of the liver were very fatal— 



16 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUBHOOD 


of the charges advanced against Comte Lally was, *‘of 
causing himself to be treated as if he had a» abscess of 
the liver before an abscess was formed, which, had it 
ever happened, would have caused his death’’ though 
this is absurd — it shows the view entertained then of 
abscess. 

Dr. Lind writes of the fevers of the middle of last 
century in Calcutta. '‘The distempers are fevers of the 
remitting or intermitting kind ; sometimes they may begin 
under a continued form, and remain several days without 
any perceptible remission, but they have in general a great 
tendency to a remission. They are commonly accompa- 
nied with violent fits of rigorous or shiverings, and with dis- 
charges of hih upwards and downwards, ‘If the season be very 
sickly, some are seized with a malignant fever, of which 
they soon die ; the body is conversed with blotches of a 
livid colour, and the crops in a few hours turns quite black 
and corrupted. At this time fluxes prevail, which may be 
called bilious or putrid, the better to distinguish them 
from others which are accompanied with an inflamation 
of the bowels. In all those diseases at Bengal, the lancet 
is cautiously to be used. It is a common observation, 
both at Bengal and Bencoolen, that the moon or tides 
have a remarkable influence there on intermitting fevers. 

I have been informed by ‘a gentleman of undoubted 
veracity, and of great knowledge in medicine, that in 
fevers at Bengal, he could foretell their precise time when 
the patient would expire, it being generally about the 
hour of loir water. This much is certain, that in the year 
1762, after a great sickness of which it was computed 
30,000 Blacks and 800 Europeans died in the province of 
Bengal, upon an eclipse of the moon, the English mer- 
chants and others, who had left off taking the bark, suflT- 
ered a relapse. The return of this fever was so general 
od the day of the eclipse, that there was not the least 
reason to doubt of the c^fcct*^ 

Respecting the mortality of Europeans in Calcutta, it is 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME —ITS PEOPLE 


77 


difficult to get accurate statistics. Hamilton states that in 
1700, there were about 1200 English men in Calcutta, but 
in the following January 460 were buried, higher than any 
year up to 1800, excepting 1760 when 305 died ; the 
last century gives an average of 164 annually— bu t v c 
doubt its correctness.^ 

Strong has made elaborate tables in which he calculates 
the mortality among natives in Calcutta in 1831-40 at 
four and three-fifths per cent annually. 

The adventurers (a term applied in the days of the com- 
pany’s commercial monopoly to every man who came out 
not in the service of the Company ; India was designed 
to be a pet preserve of the civil service) cannot be ommit- 
ted from the sketch of Old Calcutta, — they were few a 
despised.^ The “Eonats” a poem in ridicule of ‘Tree 

3. “Respecting that disease which has proved such an aweful 
scourge in Calcutta — Cholera, it is a commonly received opinion, that ia 
broke out first in the Marquies of Hastings* Army, and made its appe- 
rance in the Nuddea District in 1813, but by reference to old writers 
wo find, that if not known as an Epidemic something very similar pre- 
vailed in Calcutta, bub as an Endemic, Lind mentions “that in the great 
sickness of 1762 in which 30,000 Blacks and 800 Europeans died in the 
province of Bengal, it was marked that a “constant vomiting of a write, 
though, pellucid phlegm accompanied with a continental diarrhoea, was 
deemed the most mortal symptom’*. Cholera was called Morte de Chien, 
“Very frequent, and fatal ;** and the treatment was emetics opiate, 
hortshorn, and water, it took the patient off in a few hours. Monsiveur 
Eellon in 1698 writes of a disease called, the Indian Mordecoi, which 
kills people in a few hour’s time, accompanied with vomiting and loose- 
ness. The remedies reckoned effectual, are applying a rod hot iron to the 
feet across the anetes, and taking kanji water with peeper. When cholera 
as an Epidemic first broke out in the Marquis of Hastings* grand army 
natives were first attacked, in the case of Europeans it accompanied 
by spasms, caused intense thirst, but the Doctors did not allow a drop 
of water ; though some men that got water by stealth rapidly recovered. 
Besides brandy and landanum, one of the remedies was placing the 
patient in a hot bath, and bleeding him white there in the arms*^pro- 
vided blood flowed. The doctors contagious ; the camp followers were 
out off so rapidly that the Marquis of Hastings was obliged to pitch a 
standing camp near Gwalior**. 

4* The following extracts from the pamphlet show the feeling. 
Thue it deacribes the importations to India* 



78 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


trade and empty speculation published in 1813 ^ gives a 
frontspiecc in style of Punch ; close in the background, is 
the India House to be let, one man holds a scroll on which 
is written ‘*since the loss of the slave trade our Liver has 
become a pool of grief to us dissolved in woe — moreover 
our port (Liverpool) stands so sung for smuggling that the 
free trade need not go North about for that purpose’\ 
Another ‘‘Cork jackets for Indian Divers, salted pork for 
Fakirs”, then a Scotchman “Your petitioners request that 
leaving to the Company the Hull, you would give us the 
Kernel of the East Indian Commerce’’ then to barter 
“for converting Scotch pearls into orientals, show boots, 
fire screens, warming pans in visible petticoats, tragedies 
for worm weather then the ship ^^venua receiving her 
cargo of white and willing nuns’ for the consumption of 
East Indies, which from the intended schemes of specula- 
tion, will naturally become Bankrupt in Morlas as in 
Trade.”® The writer, to show how little demand there 
is for the interloper to trade in Calcutta, states that of a 

Pale faded by time grown faint 

will brighten up 'through art ; 

As British gives their faces paint 
For sale at India's mart. 

* ♦ ♦ 

Another in his bark receives 
coffins for undertakers 
For Brahmins, caesocks and hiwn sleeves 
And feather beds for Fakirs ; 

4 ^ « ♦ 

This packs up ice in earthen J ars, 

And happily creates 
For Sheffield manufacturers, 

A large demand for skaits. 

« Ht « 

And lo ! to mend the sunburnt breed 
Of Asia’s fawny sons, 
what a vast foresightage is decreed 
Of white and willing nuns. 

5, Yet in the 1823 the King of Japan styled Sir T. Smith and others 
in ‘‘the honpurable and worshipful odvtnturBS to the "Eest Indies”. 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


79 


labouring man, wife and two children, can live on 2| 
rupees monthly, what an overplus he must have to expend 
on articles of foreign luxury — he overlooked young Bengal. 

Any one found without a license 10 miles from the 
Presidency was liable to be marched under a guard on 
board ship and sent back to England forthwith. 

While the settlement of European Capitalists having a 
good moral character, and willing to treat the natives kindly 
and justly, would be a great boon in the Mofussil, the 
indiscriminate admission of Europeans was always con- 
sidered bad ; the East India Company have never had 
justice done in their views with regard to interlopers in 
this point *, one of the best exposed of them however was 
given in a speech of the Right Honourable H. Dundas 
in the House of Commons in 1793, and which called forth 
the decided approbation of Pitt. He states on this 
point, “An indiscriminate and unrestrained colonization 
would destroy that respect or rather eradicate that feeling 
which is general among the natives, of the superiority of 
the European character. It is a fact, that upon this 
feeling of the superiority of the Europeans the preservation 
of our empire depends, and it is owing to the limited 
number of them, and to their being the connected servants 
of the company, or licensed inhabitants, that the idea of 
the superiority is so general, or that is effectual as a means 
of administering the government of our provinces. I 
cannot illustrate these observations better, than referring 
to the correspondence between Meer Cossim and Mr. 
Vansittart ; the Nabab complained to this Governor, that 
the natives were oppressed and harassed by numbers of 
Vagrant Europeans ; thinking, perhaps, that the Nabab was 
alarmed without reason Mr. Vansittart replied, that these 
Europeans were too contemptible to deserve notice. ‘They 
may be contemptible’ answered the Nabab, ‘in your 
opinion, but the dog of an European is of consequence 
among the limited natives of this country*. If then, the 
superiority of the European character must be maintained 



80 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


in India, it is impossible for us to think of authorising an 
unrestrained emigration**. 

Griffs^ though so abundant of late in India and parti- 
cularly old Griffs, were not unknown formerly. Captain 
Williamson states regarding them in 1800. ‘‘Nothing can 
be more prepasterous than the significant sneers of gentle- 
men on their first arrival in India ; meaning thereby, to 
ridicule or despise what they consider effeminacy or 
luxury. Thus, several may be seen annually walking 
about without chattahs (i.e. unbrellas,) during the great- 
est heats, they affect to be ashamed of requiring aid, and 
endeavour to uphold by such a display of indifference, the 
great reliance placed on strength of constitution. This 
unhappy infatuation rarely exceeds a few days, at the end 
of that time, sometimes only of a week ( may I have 
known the period to be much shorter ) we too often are 
called upon to attend the funeral of the self-deluded 
victim. The first attack is generally announced by cold 
shiverings and bilious vomiting, delirium speedily ensues, 
when pure — faction advances with such “hasty stride, as 
often to render interment necessary so soon as can 
possibly be affected.” The Colonel of a King’s Regiment 
was considered the beam ideal of an old Griff. An 
anecdote is detailed of one who sent to the office of the 
Gommander-in-Chief of request that a “cool station” 
might be selected for his crops ; and of the commandant 
of a brigade who hearing continually of the allowance for 
doolees (Palanquins), enquired what short of “animals” 
they waere since they seemed to eat so much.* 

An old writer of 1808 thus describes a griff officer of 
the Royal Army on his arrival in India. 

“On his arrival in India, it is, somehow or other, a 
natural bias which prompts him, ( and I may say every 
European, King’s or Company’s ) to feel a sensation of 

e. Not as bad as Lord Hardinge^s ordering Ohaptassies to be oooked 
for brec^^ast— •be meant Chappatees, 



OALOtJTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


81 


repugnance, nay, little short of abhorrence, to the natives 
*in general. Whether this has been born with us, or is 
the effect of education I know not ; But I can appeal to 
the truth of it, to the breast of any person who has been 
into India, everything a native docs is executed exactly 
contrary to European ideas ; and these people arc so 
addicted to telling the most barefaced lies, that a 
stranger falling into the hands of the most villainous post 
of them ( the Madras dubashes ) on his first arrival, is 
naturally confirmed in the abhorrence he has felt for 
them at first sight. I have seen many sensible persons 
who could not conquer their aversion, for a length of 
time, so far as even to touch the skin of a native *‘Blac- 
key*' ; ‘black fellows’, and ‘black scoundrels’, arc the 
opprobrious terms generally used ‘in speaking of them, 
amongst every class of Europeans.’ 

The King's troops were all noted for their griffinage — 
The following anecdote is recorded of one at the period 
of the Vellore Massacre : — “The arrogance of a reply to 
a Lieutenant Colonel, of ‘25 Years’ standing, who com- 
manded a corps of sepoys, had asked ‘a King’s Colonel 
( commanding the station ) leave for his sepoys to attend 
an annual Hindoo festival ; urging, when this was denied, 
that it had been an invariable custom to grant the leave, 
for 25 years he had been in the service.” — Then, replied 
the commandant (who was not three years old when the 
Lieutenant Colonel entered the Army) “I, Theodosius Pam 
Padore Mount Razor, Colonel, commanding the * * ^ do 
now abolish, and put a stop to the said custom, in its 26th, 
years ! turning upon his heel on finishing the sentence”. 
This griffinage was near costing the loss of India, as the 
Vellore Mutiny was mainly caused by king’s officers inter- 
fering ignorantly with the prejudices of the sepoys, requir- 
ing them to wear peculiar kind of turban like a hat and 
to shave their whiskers : the principal conspirator going 
to execution declared at his last words that **he would 
rather suffer death than wear the hat’*— Yet people in 

-6 



82 


OALOUTTA AKD ITS KBIQHBOYBHOOD 


English in that day Pooh-poohed it. Saying ^*frhat 
is the matter it is a turban or a whisker f” A young 
Griff in the hands of native servants was always an object 
of the deepest pity, about 1810 he is graphically described 
thus : ‘‘His clothes disappear first — his money goes next, 
he knows neither the coins of the country, for their value 
— for the worth of two pounds he is lucky if he obtains 
one — and so on. Without a soul on whose recommenda- 
tion for servants he can rely, he beholds himself the prey 
of sharpers of whose villainy he is well aware, thought 
utterly at a loss how to supply their place with others 
in whose fidelity he has confidence. Those servants who 
ply at ghauts, or landing places are usually of the very 
worst description ; and it is truly to be lamented, that 
these men by speaking English, become so useful to the 
stranger, unacquainted with a single word of Hindoo- 
stanee, that ail confidence is vested in them, of which, as 
may be supposed, they fail not to take every advantagc’\ 

In direct opposition to the Griff was the Old Indian of 
whom so much has been written ; here are the descriptions 
of one of last century, “Having lost all affections for, and 
all remembrance of the land of their nativity, they settle 
down to some engrossing employment, and vegetate in 
dulness and obscurity, perfectly satisfied with the gratifica- 
tion which a regular supply of European eatables and 
drinkable can afford, never desiring to change their 
situation, or to enter into a larger or higher sphere. A 
vast number of strange notions may be acquired by those 
who, confined to a narrow circle, contract their minds 
withijp; the same boundary, and are as little fitted to mix 
with the world as if their faculties were benumbered by 
the wand of the enchanter’". Or again “Amorous in the 
extreme, possessed of nice sensibility increased by the 
climate and passionately devoted to a luxurious and idle 
life, the generality of Indians find too many resources in 
their Zenanas to exchange them voluntarily for the cares 
pf Cutchery or the tumuts of camp”. 



OALOUrTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS PEOPLE 


83 


But with improved religious and literary tastes the old 
Indian is passing away and men are inclined to go to the 
other extreme and remain “Everlasting Griffs’" — ever 
learning. 

With the exception of Buchanan, Thomson, Martyn, 
Browne and few others, the India Chaplaincy has been bear 
of men distinguished cither for pulpit eloquence, pastoral 
visiting or theological knowledge. David Browne who 
came out in 1786 was the first men of any note ; previous 
to that period and 1756 there were 13 Chaplains of these 
2 died, one in the Black Hole, another at Fulta among the 
fugitives, 5 died after about 3 year’s service, none of them 
“studied the language of the Gentus.” The first Chaplain 
we have mentioned of in Calcutta is the Rev. S. Bricncliffc 
in 1714. Seeing the want of schools, the Portuguese 
“having none, but bringing up their slaves in their own 
faith’", he propose to establish one, but met with no 
encouragement. Mr. Bellamy perished in the Black Hole. 
Butler and Cape were Chaplains in 1758 and assisted 
Kiernander in raising money for missionary operations, 
they died there in 1761. Stavely succeeded but was 
carried of by an epidemic in 1762. Dr. Burns, Hulscr, 
Chaplain to Sir E. Carter, Owen, Blanshard and Johnson 
were subsequent Chaplains. Large fortunes were made 
by them in days when 16 or 20 gold-mohurs were a 
common fee for a marriage and 5 gold-mohurs the small- 
est fee for a baptism. “Goldmohurs are dealt about in 
Calcutta as half-crown in England”. We in vain search for 
traces of any of the Chaplains of last century having been 
distinguished for oriental scholarship. Valentia writes of 
them in 1802 “as noted for the unedifying contests that 
prevail among them even in the pulpit, which tent to 
lower the religion and its followers in the eyes of the 
natives of every description”. The late Bishop Wilson’s 
Opinion, regarding Chaplains was similar ; he once declar- 
ed publicly, that half his time was spent in settling their 
quarrels. Major S« Waring recommended in 1807' that 



84 


OALOUTTA AKD ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


Chaplains should in future confine themselves to the souls 
of their own countrymen, — there was little occasion for 
that advice, as the Chaplains have never been over zealous 
in ‘^teaching the Gentus”. 

The name of Doctor will ever be dear to Calcutta, in 
connection with Surgeon Hamilton who cured of a malig- 
nant distemper the Great Mogul, and was allowed by him 
as a mark of gratitude a piece of ground for bis country- 
men. Surgeon Kerr who died in 1782 was distinguished 
as well by his medical knowledge, as by his ‘^improving the 
Arts, and enriching science by his discoveries in India”, 
Dr. Wade died in 1802, he published various medical tracts 
and had finished a large volume on the History of Assam,— 
where is it ? Hartly House states last century of the Doctors — 
“Physic, as well as law is a gold mine to its professors to 
work it at will. The medical gentlemen at Calcutta make 
their visits by palanquins, and receive a gold-mohur from 
each patient for every common attendance, extras are enor- 
mous. Medicines arc also rates so high, that it is shocking 
to think of : in order to soften which public evil as much 
as possible, an apothecary’s shop is opened at the Old Fort, 
by the Company, in the nature of your London Dispen- 
saries where drugs arc vended upon reasonable times. 
The following charges are specimens of the expenses those 
Europeans incur, who sacrifice to appearances. An ounce 
of bark, three rupees; an ounce of salt, one rupee ; a 
foul, one rupee ; a blister, two rupees — and so on in 
proportion, so that literally speaking, you may ruin your 
fortune to preserve your life. But then to balance this 
formidStlc account, every profession has its amazing ad- 
vantages : accordingly, as I am told, that is no uncommon 
thing to clear a hundred and forty per cent by merchan- 
dise on many European articles and particularly the 
ornamental for ladies or men’s hats”. 

In 1780 the following squib on some of the doctors 
appeared in one of the Calcutta papers— we fear it was^ 
too true 



CALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


86 


Such Doctors who never saw Leyden, or Flanders, 

Run counters to reason, and bleed in the jaundice. 

If your wife has a headache let Sangrado but touch her 
And he'll jobb in his Launcct live any Log Butcher 
Tho' in putrid complaints, dissolution is rapid, 

He'll bleed you to render the serum more rapid. 

But consider the cause sure, ’twill give one the hip man, 
To see dubb’s a doctor, a special good midshipman, 
Who handels your pulse as he'd handel a rope, 

And conceives your complaint. Just as clear as the Pope. 
English ladies in Calcutta in last century were few and 
were very expensive. Stavorinus thus describes them in 1770 : 
"‘Domestic peace and tranquility must be purchased by a 
shower of jewels, a wardrobe of the richest clothes, and 
a kindly parade of plate upon the sideboard, the husband 
must give all these, or according to a vulgar phrase ‘the 
house would be too hot to hold him,’ while the wife never 
pays the least attention to her domestic concerns, but 
suffers the whole to depend upon her servants or slaves. 
The women generally rise between eight and nine o’clock. 
Dinner is ready at half past one ; they go to sleep till half 
past four or five ; they then dress in form, and the evening 
and past of the night is spend in company or at dancing 
parties, which are frequent during the colder season. They 
are fond of parties of pleasure, which arc frequently 
made, both upon the delightful banks and upon the 
pleasant waves of the Ganges, Yet these and all other 
amusements, are here peculiarly expensive”. Up to the 
close of the century they amounted to not more than 250 in 
Bengal and its dependencies, while the European male 
inhabitants of respectability, including military officers, 
were about 4000. Besides few comming out through dread 
of the climate, no lady could be landed in Bengal at a less 
cost than 5000 rupees ; freight was high, a monopoly of 
the Company — £25 a ton paid for goods, now to be sent 
;^5 ; a good lebel was kept during a long voyage, which 
4hcn as now afforded leisure and scope for fiery hearts and 



OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIOHBOUBHOOD 

gossiping tongues. Hickey’s Gazette states of this in l780r 
^'In my last I sent you an account of the nunrfber of ladies 
which has arrived in the late ships, there came eleven in 
one vessel, too great a number for the peace and good 
order of a Round House. Millinery must rise at least 25 per 
cent, for the above ladies, when they left England were 
well stocked with Head Dresses of different kinds, formed 
to the highest ton. But from three last months of the 
passage they had scares a cap left when they arrived”.’ 

The marriage question is one that occupied an important 
place in Old Calcutta, in the days when Edinburgh was 
called ‘‘the flesh market for the marriage mart. London 
supplies out too. Grand Pre states of this. ‘‘From a 
knowledge of this general predilection in favour of matri- 
mony in India, the English, who are inclined to every sort 
of speculation, send thither annually whole cargoes of 
females, who are tolerably handsome and arc seldom six 
months in the country without getting husbands. These 


7. What Stavorinous states of the Dutch ladies at Batavia in ooeter is 
paribus applicable to those of Bengal. “They are in general, of every 
delicate make and of an extreme fair complexion ; but the tints of 
Vermillion which embelisb our Northern ladies, are wholly absent from 
their cheeks ; the skin of their face and hands is of the most deadly pale 
white. They have very supple joints and can turn their fingers, hands 
and arms in almost every direction ; but this they have in common 
with the women in the West Indies and in other tropical climates. They 
are commonly of a listless and lazy temper ; but this ought to be 
ascribed to their education, and the number of slaves of both sexes, 
that they always have to wait upon them. They rise about half past 
seven, or eight o’clock, in morning. They spend the forenoon in playing 
and toyiii^^ith their female slaves, whom they are never without, and 
in laughing and talking them, while a few moments afterwards, they 
will have the poor creatures whipped unmercifully, for the merest trifle. 
They loll in a loose and airy dress, upon a sofa, or sit upon a low stool, 
or upon the ground, with their legs crossed under them. In the mean 
time they do not omit the chewing of pinung, or betel, with which 
onstom all the Indian wometi are infatuated ; they likewise mastioate> 
the Java tobacco; this makes their spittle of a crimson colour, and 
when they have done it long, they get a black border along their lips^ 
their teeth become black, and their mouths are very disagreeable*'. 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDBN TIME — ITS PB07LE 


87 


Cargoes were impatiently expected by such as not liking 
the orphans, are tired of celibacy, and on the look out for 
the arrival of the ships they were eagar, as in other places, 
for a freight of merchandise to make purchases of goods. 
What is more extraordinary, these marriages are in general 
happy. The women, removed from Europe from a 
situation of mediocrity, often of unhappiness, to distant 
country where they pass suddenly into a state of opulence, 
feel as they ought the sentiments of gratitude due to the 
men, who share with them their fortunes. They become 
both good to the natives, who are continually wishing for 
the luxuries in which they were brought up. These matri- 
monial ventures afford the means of keeping up the white 
race, at Bengal, and prevent the Portuguese caste from 
increasing fast as on the coast. This caste is called here 
topasy from the word topi which signifies in the Portuguese 
language a hat. The name is given to such Indians as 
change their own for the European dress and wear a hat 
instead for a turban". 

On a young lady landing the church itself was made 
a place for courtship, and the first three nights after 
landing the young lady — who came to see her aunt, 
remained up all right to receive visitors who crowded 
the house of some lady of rank, as if at on fresh wake — 
the rule being ^^strike the iron while hot’* Marriages 
were accordingly as quickly got up as these at Kiddcrporc 
but the Govcrnor-Gcnerars licence to be married was 
necessary to constitute it a legal one. Many matches 
were concluded even before the third night of exhibition 
but in special cases a fourth night was required for the 
banquet of bachelors from the interior. There were no 
punkahs in those days — with tight lacing, mosquitos and 
a crowd, the lady must have suffered much — and she had 
to return all the visits. About 1780 the practice began 
to fall into disuse owing to the increase of people and 
of houses, some of which were at a great distance from 
others. There was great competition then for marriageable 



88 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


ladies, as the following notice of Hickey^ s Gazette, 1780 
illustrates ! 

^^It is said that the Captain H — was last night or will 
soon be married to Miss P — , a lady of merit and gentle 
accomplishment. We are told here that several other 
happy unions of the same nature arc now meditating 
and will soon take place in Calcutta. Happy people [ 
who have the opportunity of rendering yourselves to the 
fair, a blessing seldom experienced by us poor fellows in 
this remote part of the country. Make the most of your 
present situation, I advice you ; for the gentlemen out of 
the provinces, believing that forestalling is contrary to 
law, as they are assured it is repugnant to equity, are 
determined to apply to the Judges for an order of Court, 
that an equal division of beauty may be made, and they 
hope to have the support of Government in this and their 
prayer as remits are no less necessary than civilians to 
the welfare of the state.” 

The consequences of hasty marriage were often dep- 
lorable, Calcutta having been noted for its Affairs de 
Court almost as much as the Court ofVersilles, and a 
husband was often regarded by the lady as an Italian 
lady generally views hers. On the slightest attack of ill- 
ness the wife found a pretext for leaving for Europe a 
husband to whom she had scarcely reached kedgiri, before 
the husband had supplied himself with *‘a seraglio of 
bloc damas.*' Cases have been even known, when the 
doctor was bribed by the husband to give an order for 
a chan^ of climate. Men old enough to make a girl 
guilty of a breach of the canonical articles which posi- 
tively forbid your marrying your grand-father, were 
wedded to girls in their teens with little or no attraction. 
No wonder it was remarked of those marriages “Hymen 
in Calcutta is seldom attended at the nuptial ceremony 
by Cupid”. Marriages were celebrated in the evening 
we find it is in 1778 — how much earlier we do not 
know. Weddings here arc very joyous things to all pa rtics 



OALCUrTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


89 


especially, I should suppose, to the Padre or clergyman, 
who frequently receives twenty gold-mohurs for his trouble 
of performing the ceremony. The bride and and bride- 
groom’s friends assemble, all elegantly dressed, at one 
or other of the young couple’s nearest relations, and are 
most sumptuously entertained ; and the congratulatory 
visit on the occasion put the whole town in motion.” 

Notices of marriage were written in a curious style, 
this is one of 1780. ‘‘Married last Saturday at Cossim- 
bazer the Honourable David Anstruther’ a Lieutenant 
& the yellow, to Miss Donaldson of that place, a young 
lady of beauty and infinite accomplishments. In those 
days all ladies were considered beauties, ‘tritons among 
the minnows,’ but few ladies of good education or good 
family would venture out of England. Scotland sent a 
supply and of them it is observed in 1800. “The gene- 
rality of ladies who came annually from Europe though 
doubtless of unsullied virtue, are by no means such as 
a person at all scrupulous in the connexions he formed, 
would select form, for a partner for life.” 

The establishment of the Supreme Court in Calcutta^ 
last century introduced the lawyers into Calcutta, to the 
great loss, and sorrow of the natives, who have found 
English law the dearest and worst of all law. 
Asiaticus writes thus in 1774 : “The numerous depen- 
dants, which have arrived in the train of the Judges, 
and of the new Commander-in-chief of the forces, will 
of course be appointed to all posts of any emolument,, 
and we must do those gentlemen the justice to observe 
that both in number and capacity, they exactly resemble 
an army of locusts sent.to devour the fruits of the earth. 

Hartley House mentions — “No wonder lawyers return 
from this country rolling in wealth, their fees arc 
enormous , if you ask a single question on any affair, you 
pay down your goldmohur, and if he writes a letter of 
only three lines twenty-eight rupees ! I tremble at the 
idea of coming into their hands, for what must be 



90 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


the recoveries, to answer such immense charges ! you 
must, however, be informed, that the numbSr of acting 
attornics on the Court roll is restricted to twelve , who* 
serve an articled clerkship of three years only, instead 
of five, as in England. The fee for making a will is in 
proportion to its length, from goldmohurs upwards and 
as to marriage articles I should imagine they would 
half ruin a man, and a process at law be the destruction 
of both parties. A man of abilities and good address 
in this line, if he has the firmness to resist the 
fastible contagion, gambling, need only pass one seven 
years of his life in Calcutta, to return home in affluent 
circumstances, but the very nature of their profession 
leads them into gay connection, and having for a time 
complied with the humour of their company from 
prudential motives, they become fained and prosecute 
their bane from the impulses inclination. 

About 1820 a Tirhoot planter published a work on 
India and gives the following views which corresponds 
with other statements, of the Mercantile Houses last century. 
“The Calcutta agents from a very prominent part of the 
community and from their extensive mercantile connexi- 
ons, occupy a large space in the public eyes. These 
gentlemen, according to bombastic mode of cxprcssioi> 
usual in India, arc called, by way of eminence, the princely 
merchants of Calcutta. Indeed the princes of the desk 
and ledger arc very fond of adulation, and take pride in 
the high-sounding epithets applied to them, by persons 
some twqp^y or fifty thousand rupees minus in their books. 
People in the East arc addicted to pompous title j the 
emperor’s court arounded in “lights of the world, invin- 
cible swords, and supporters of the throne’*. I dare say 
these ledger princes, whose insignia should consist of a bale 
of cotton for a crown, and an indigo chest for a sceptre^, 
by and by will be metamorphosed into ornaments of our 
Indiaxi and ^mighty lords of the quill’ — high in dignity. 
But a trace to levity, and let us examine what the 



OALOUTTJL IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 

princely merchants arc. During the war Calcutta agency 
houses consisted of old establishments which engrossed a 
great part of all commercial transactions, and might be 
termed a mercantile aristrocracy, possessed of large 
factories and numerous constituents through India, the 
trader was entirely depended upon them, and an agent 
dictated his terms, from which there was no appeal. At 
present the case is different ; inferior houses of agency 
have started up, new establishments have been formed, 
and zm agent cannot dictate terms to persons possessed of 
some property, as they may have recourse to these inferior 
houses, so that the aristocracy is fast loosing its domineer- 
ing ascendancy ; they act no agents to civil servants, in 
the army, &c., and lend money to merchants or traders 
upon terms very favourable to themselves, so that it often 
happens, when these arc losers by a speculation, the agent 
is a gainer. During the war, when the commercial men 
sometimes made their fortune by a happy incident, they 
charged forty, fifty, and ninety per cent for money ad- 
vanced ; however, at present, that trade is dull ; they are 
compelled to be moderate and content themselves with 
thirty. This exorbitant percentage, they make out in the 
shape of interest for money, commissions, charges, godown 
rents, &c., which often startle and gall an unwary con- 
stituent. I have heard of cases where this letter has sat 
down full of satisfaction, and calculated a pretty little 
balance in his own favour, after allowing for the common 
interest of money ; but this was reckoning without his host. 
He goes to his agent, requests his account, and start at a 
debt which stares him in the face, more frightful than 
Hector’s ghost was to pious iEncas, The agents have 
indigo factories, cotton factories, and other possessions* 
in the interior, over which they appoint manager, and 
allow them a share in the concern, also a salary for their 
trouble ; with these they adopt the same system as with 
speculators, to that managers are often involved in debt,, 
whilst the agent is a gainer. This was the case with indigo- 



92 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIOHBOUEHOOD 


planters for many years ; they laboured, they sweated, and 
found themselves in the end playing a sosing game ; how- 
ever for the last two years, fortune has been propitious, 
and owing to the great rise in the price of that article they 
are getting rich in spite of incumbrances. Constituents, 
with an independent property, arc neither more nor less 
than servants to agents, related, recommended, or other- 
wise connected with these latter ; who possess establish- 
ments which must be superintended by somebody, and 
into which these gentlemen arc doubled as managers,, con- 
stituents or servants. When a constituent is deeply in 
their books, and has no assets sufficient to pay them, they 
insure his life to the amount ; so that his death, which 
may not be very distant in a climate like India, discharges 
all arrears. They are associated with persons of the highest 
rank, with whom they arc concerned in business, and 
receive numerous visitors, in order to draw the ties of 
interest closer and arbitrary, not the moderation of an 
English merchant, but the loftiness of an Indian ; so that 
young men, who would come in their employments, 
should have a flexible back, and be skilled in the art of 
fooing”. How much the merchant was in the power of the 
Banyan last century we may judge from the following dcs» 
cription of that functionary. 

^^Banyan is a person cither action for himself or as the 
substitute of some great black merchants by whom the 
English gentlemen is generally in transact all their business 
He is interpreter, head book-keeper, head secretary, head 
broker, the supplier of cash, and cash-keeper, and in 
general secret-keeper. He puts in the undcr-cIcrks, 
the porter or door-keeper, stewards, bearers of the silver, 
slaves, running footmen, torch and franch light-carriers, 
palanquin-bearers, and all the long tribe of under fcr» 
vants, for whose honesty he is deemed answerable, and 
he conducts all the trade of his master, to unless 

pretty well acquainted with the country languages, it is 
difficult for any of the natives to obtain access. In short 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 

he possesses singly many more powers over his master 
than can in the country be assumed by any young 
spendthrifts, steward, money-lender, and mistress all 
together, and farther serves very conveniently sometime 
in public discussion to farther such acts or proceedings as 
his master darest not avow. There is a powerful string of 
connection among these Banyans who serve all the English 
in the settlements of Bengal, as well in all public officers 
as in their private offices. Since the great influence 
acquired there by the English, many person of the test 
Gentoo families take upon them this trust of servitude 
and even pay a sum of money for serving gentlemen in 
certain posts ; but principally for the influence which they 
acquire thereby, and the advantage of carrying in trade 
which they could not otherwise do and which in this 
situation they frequently do, duty free, under cover of 
their master’s dustucks. There have been few instances 
of any European acquiring such a knowledge in speaking 
reading and writing the Bengali language ( which is 
absolutely necessary for a real merchant ) as to be able ta 
do without such Head Banyan.’* 

In 1833-34 the great crash came on merchants of 
Calcutta who lived as princes — but with other pcople’is 
money. The newspaper press of Calcutta was silent but 
the London Times told the truth in the following plain 
language. ‘^The mite of the widow, the hard earnings of 
the military servant, the collected accumulations of the 
civil servant, the funds of the capitalist, and the realized 
treasure of the retiring pensioner, on its way from India to 
Europe, have all been involved in one common deteriora- 
tion or ruin. They have been occasioned solely by the 
mode in Calcutta agency houses have been transacting 
business for the last ten or fifteen years, in other words 
since the charter of 1814 ; the range for speculation or in- 
ordinate gains, on the part of the directors, and too eager 
or confident cupidity of their customers. Over-trading, 
improvident enterprise, extravagant miscalculation and 



i)4 CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 

•excessive expense in living have no doubt been the cause 
of the recent failures’\ 

We give the following lists of failures of a few houses 
which show the ruin and dismay that were then spread in 
Calcutta, but this effect was little among merchants as 
some of the old partners of the agency-houses seeing the 
storm coming had retired with part of their fortunes, and 
peniless adventurers took their place. 

Calcutta. 


18^0— Jany., 

Palmer & Co., repo 

rted; 

• • ;C5,000,000 

1832— Dec., 

Alexander & Co., admitted, • 

.• 3,440,000 

1833 — Jany., 

Mackintosh & Co., 

do 

•• 2,700,000 

„ —May, 

Colvin & Co., 

do 

•• 1,120,000 

„ —Nov., 

Fergusson & Co., 

do 

•• 3,562,000 

1834— Jany., 

Crutenden & Co*, 

do 

•• 1,350,000 


At Calcutta 

•• 17,172,000 


Bombay. 



1833 — April, 

Shotan & Go. 

... 

207,000 


London. 



1833— May, 

Plekrads & Co. 

... 

950,000 

„ — Augt., 

Firlie & Go., 

... 

... 1,044,000 


Grand Total .. 

. £19,373,000 

Missionaries 

were looked on last 

century, 

and past of 


this, by the Government, as dangerous class of men; hence 
originated the following despatch of the Governor General 
in December, 1807 of the court. “The late prohibition 
of Publiti.prcaching in the native languages at Calcutta, 
was rendered indispensable by ‘some actual indications of 
solicitude, and incipient irritation in the minds of the 
native public, an in this city, in consequence of those 
provocations, in India more than in any other country, 
‘the control of religious publications is indispensable for 
-the ‘public safety’*. Yet last century the stores for the 
Danish Missionaries were sent freight and duty free, by 
(the Court of Directors, and in Lord Miuto’i time they 




CALCUTTA IK THB OLDXN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 95 

were lent 300 pagodas monthly to be repaid. Missiona- 
ries in the Madras Presidency rendered great service to 
the cause of Natural History, such as Keening a pupil of 
Linnaeus, Martine, Klein, Roftlcr, John. Swartz, at the 
earnest request of Government negotiated with Hydcr 
who would just no one else. Governor Clive stood sponsor 
to the child of Kicrnander, the first Protestant Missionary 
in Calcutta. But the Vellore Massacre had about 1808 
roused Calcutta people to a sense of the slight tenure of 
their power in this country ; as a consequence, in a letter 
to the Court in 1813, we have the following alarm 
expressed in a pamphlet of the day at the proposal even 
to have a Bishop. 

*^Even names often have a great effect among the mul- 
titudes. The Bishop, on his arrival in India, will probably 
be called Lord Padre Saheb, perhaps Lord Padre Burra 
Saheb, and the Archdeacon Lord Padre Chota Saheb. 
These appellations and the very appearance of the digni- 
fied divines will excite curiosity, and curiosity produced 
injury. For what purpose these great Padres come ? 
may be asked among each other. The answer will be 
obvious, alarm be excited and the recent irritations be 
renewed, and widely spread. The principal Mahomedans, 
or their adherents, many of them as enthusiastic as 
any of our zealots for the propagation of their faith, 
will, as they did at Vellore, eagerly seize the opportunity 
and unite in flames with the Hindoos against the 
Christians.” 

There was no ground however for alarm as friends of 
Missions then did not advocate State interference in mis- 
sions ; thus in 1813 Wilbcrforcc in a famous speech in the 
House of Commons recommended the sending Missionaries 
to India, but added, *^that the missionaries should be clear- 
ly understood to be armed with no commission from the 
the governing power of the country. In the work of 
conversion, I abjure all ideas of compulsion : H disclaim 
all use of the authority, nay, even of the influence of 



96 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOURHOOD 


government- I would trust altogether to the effects of 
reason® and truth’’. 

Kiernandcr, the first Missionary to Bengal, was we 
believe, the first who did any thing in native education. 
We find that in 1758 Mr. Kicrnandcr had a school of 175^ 
children, 78 of whom were instructed at the expense of the 
Christian Knowledge Society. Mr. Kiernander’s collea- 
gue, Mr. Sylvester, was then occupied in translating a 
Gatccchism and prayers into Bengali ; at that day it way 
brought by many as absurd a thing to give high introduc- 
tion to a native as to teach dancing to a cow. We havt* 
an account of a Mr. Reuben Barrow, an able mathemati- 
cian in India at the close of last century, who was asked 
by several natives to instruct them in astronomy and 
algebra. He began, but he was so deficient in suavity of 
manner as to drive the natives away and to gain for him- 
self the little of the Mathematical Hottenot, 

Sailors in Calcutta have always been noted for their 
recklessness and speedy death. The mortality of sailors in 
the Port of Calcutta was fearful, chiefly owing to thier 
intemperance, and no means adopted to check it ; in fact 
in the early days of the East India Company, such as in 
1750, the charge was made by a proprietor against the 
Captains of Indiamen^ *‘of the constant practice of making 
their crews drunk, and mad with the spirituous liquors they 
trafficked in, and the Commanders in the military swallow- 
ing the whole pay of your soldiers in the same trade ; 
which was one great cause of the few there was, and of 
their iiy^ehaviour and desertion at Madras, when the 
enemy came before it”. About 1780, Sobha Bazar was 
frequented by sailors, as Lai Bazar is now, ‘Uhe noted 
place of residence of the black ladies of pleasure’’. In that 
year a great fire is recorded to have happened there, when 
Jack rescued all their property from the mat huts- 

8- Major Soott Waring who had been Secretary t<| Warren HestingB^ 
came out at this time with a pamphlet which he recommended **tbe^ 
iuimediate recall of every Indian MiMionary”. 



OALOXTTTA IW TBM aLDSN TIMB^ITS nOTLM 


97 


Sailors in 1780 were in Calcutta loafers, ^^occasionally 
Tabling over the country, disgracing the British name and 
weakening the hands of Government*\ We have an ac- 
count of a press gang going after them to the punch houses, 
'^pressing a considerable number of men who had no 
visible means of their support*^ thus ridding the settle- 
ment of great numbers of idle fellows **who may be useful 
to their king and country, by lending their assistance to 
chastise the enemies of Old England in this part of the 
world**. The following is an advertisement to sailors in 
1780 to engage in privateering, which was then reckoned 
a favourable opening to men seeking their fortune. 

To all gentlemen, seemed and lads of enterprise and 
true spirit, who are ambitious of making an honourable 
independence by the plunder of the enemies of their coun- 
try, the ^^Death or Glory* privateer, a prime sailing vessel, 
commanded by James Bracey, mounting six 22-pounders, 
12 cohurns and twenty swivels and carrying one hundred 
and twenty men — will leave Calcutta in few days on a 
five month*s cruise against the Dutch, French and Spani- 
ards. The best treatment and encouragement will be 
given. 

Last century when European were few, food and houses 
cheap and salaries high, Calcutta was pre-eminently the 
thine of hospitality ; a new comer found his hosts house, 
servants and money at his disposal ; spare covers were 
laid out at dinner and at supper for any friends that might 
drop into tea pot luck, merchants then had regular hot 
tiffins open to all their friends, and to those who wished 
to sec them on business there was the freeness of French 
life ; the increase of prices and multiplication of unknown 
adventurers necessarily placed restrictions on this open 
table system, and boarding houses gradually sprang 
up. Public breakfasts were customarily given by the 
Governor-General, and members of Council — ^Afpreface 
to alevee ^^good and bad were to be seen iaround 
the same teapot. This occasioned a native of some 
^7 



98 


OALOtTTTA AVD ITS KEIOHBOUBJIOOD 


consequence to remark that among Europesyis all who 
wore a hat and breeches were gentlemen.’* Lord Corn- 
wallis however discontinued the practice — it has of late 
years been observed in Madras. 

Hotels were not established in Calcutta till about 50 
years ago, previous to that there were traverns in the 
Lai Bazar and Gossitollah : the Wilson's of 1800 was at 
Fulta where large establishment was maintained for 
families and single ladies who had to embark and dis- 
embark there on account of the tide. On the increase 
of strangers and temporary residents in Calcutta the cost 
and comfortlessness of furnishing a whole house led to 
the setting up of boarding houses. The increase of rent 
of late in Chauringl is leading many now to adopt the 
Paris fashion of having a stite of rooms in a house. In 
1780 however we find an advertisement of an hotel in 
Calcutta to be kept by Sir E. impey's late steward and 
Sir T. Rumbold*s late cook — ‘‘turtles dressed, gentlemen 
boarded and families supplied with pastry.*’ 

Commercial pursuits were not very consistent with 
literary tassels in Old Calcutta ; the jingling of rhyme was 
discord to the ratting of rupees, and the shaking the 
pagoda tree was preferable to every other pursuit. War 
and the Muses were equally at variance. One Johns 
kept a public library in the — Old Fort about 1770, — new 
books came out only yearly, and there were few periodi- 
cals to tempt the literary lounger. Mr. Andrews who 
opened a circulating library, complains in an advertise- 
ment % 1780 of the loss he has sustained — “owing to 
gentlemen going away, and in their hurry not recollec- 
ting their being subscribers to the library or having any 
books belonging there to.** Another advertisement of 
his in 1780 states, “books are kept too long, one month 
is allowed for a quarto, he alleges that many sets were 
detained by individuals, cuts, leaves are torn out.** The 
old Hurkaru circulating library stood many years, 
Printlug was high, 500 per cent higher than now, AsiaHcus 



CALCUTTA IK Tl^ OLDSK TUCB— l^S PBOPLl 


containing 142 pages 12nio.9 printed jn 1803, was sold to 
nonsubscribers at 24 rupees a copy. 

^ 44 Hickey’s Bengal Gazette was the first Calcutta news- 
paper, it was published weekly, and started Saturday, 
January, the 29th 1780. The early number announced it 
to be ^^an antibilious specific.” No I contains advertise- 
ment of *^the comedy of the ^Beaux Stratagem/ to be 
performed fat the Calcutta Theatre”, foreign intelligence 
from ithc Liege Gazette of March the 8th, 1779- News 
received from Bombay Via-Bussora dated September 15th, 
1779 — Calcutta races the subscription plate value 2000 
Sicca Rupees. ^‘Stewards of the racing club invite the 
ladies] and gentlemen of the settlement to a ball at the 
CourtjHouse*'. — Madeira wine at 13 Sicca Rupees per 
dozen. At Williamson’s Auction Room, Old Play House^ 
houses offered for sale — ‘West India sweetmeats, Chariots 
horses, ships. The Poet’s Corner — NicolTs advertisement 
of tavern south cast of the China Bazar — a house for sale 
at Ducansore — to let a Garden House situated at Bread 
and Cheese Bungalow opposite the great tree. Govern- 
ment has given to Mr, John Princep an exclusive patent 
for coining copper pice.’* The investments used to be 
auctioned ; among the lists of things occur swords and 
phaetons. Thefts arc advertised in a way not to give 
offence, thus — as lost or supposed to be taken away in a 
mistake from the house of Mr. Brightmann in the Moorgy 
Hattah, a gold cane belonging to Mr. De Conti — borro- 
wed last week by a person or persons unknown out of a 
private gentleman’s house a very elegant pair of candle 
shades ; 40 rupees reward was oflTcred. Scurrilous as the 
Calcutta press has always been; it was out done by 
Hickey's Gazette. The editor, thought it teemed with all 
kinds of obscenity, thought like subsequent editors that he 
could say what he liked ; he advocated the liberty, i, e. 
licentiousness of the press, **thc birthright,*’ as he called 
it ••of every Englishman though not of venal Scotchmen. 
There Was great jealousy of Scotchmen. Hickey writes 



iOO CALCUTTA AHD ITS NBIGHBOURHOOD 

“Scotchmen rule every thing in India, monopolise every 
pObt . In connexion with the newspaper press, subse- 
quently occur the names of Greenlaw, Qrant, Sutherland 
Bryce, Buckingham, Richardson, Horaca Hayman 
Wilson — they gave many brilliant articles but little Indian 
news, while the censorship prevented their criticising 
cither Government or Bishop. The pens of Dr. Grant; 
Meredith Parker and Galder Campbell, the Oriental 
Pearl was also well done. 

The Calcutta press being long under censorship could 
not express its views, as soon as public opinion enabled it 
to shake of those restrictions, which were useful perhaps 
in a country like India, where we cannot expect the 
natives to respect the English Government when the 
European press is constantly abusing it, the Calcutta 
press became, generally, the advocate of class-interests 
i. e. of a handful of European in opposition to views of 
an imperial policy, which would include both European 
and natives ; hence the Calcutta press became the mere 
organ of the mercantile houses of Calcutta, But in 183S 
attention was called to the disgraceful silence of the 
Calcutta press, on the public exposures excited by Palmer 
and Company’s insolvency. 

Calcutta is the child of trade, Charnock founded it with 
mercantile views on the eastern bank of the Hooghly, 
thought the western was the more healthy ; but there was 
a great number of weavers living at Suttanatee, and there 
was deep water. Yet it is curious there was a strong party 
in En/^and opposed to trade with India, who raised 
clamorous complaints loud and general. 

Calcutta has never had any European merchants like 
Jagiit Set, the Rothschild of them were capitalists — 
except on money borrowed from native. They were 
agents, and opposed by the Company, whose London 
employers preferred sending dear things out from London 
to finding them in India : last century castor oil used to 
he sent out from England, reminding one of the directors^ 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOFLB W1 

forwarded during the mutiny by the medical autho- 
rities in England^ apprising the Quccn^s Surgeon9 of the 
recent discovery of the virtues of the best fruit, — such things 
may be, as we have it on record that a cargoe of skates 
were once sent out to Calcutta from Liverpool for winter 
recreation. 

A brisk trade was springing up with China last century^ 
merchants used to go from Calcutta every season to 
bring goods from it for the Calcutta market. One John 
Jones advertises in 1780 for orders as he is going to China. 
In the Qentlemen*s magazine for 1784 the following notice 
occurs of the Indian trade. 

^‘There is no branch of European commerce, that has 
made so rapid a progress as that to East Indies. The whole 
number of ships sent to Asia by all the maritime powers 
of Europe, at the beginning of the present century, 
did not amount to fifty sail, of which England sent 14, 
Frances, Holland 11, the Venetians and Genoese to- 
gether 9, Spain 3 and all the rest of Europe only 6 ; 
neither the Russian or imperialists at that period sent 
any. In the year 1744 the English increased the number 
of their ships to 27, the Vinetians and Genoese sent only 
4, and the rest of Europe about 9. At this period 300 sail 
of European ships belonging to the several powers arc 
employed in the East India traffic of which England alone 
^ends 68 being the whole of the East India Company’s 
shipping. The French last year employed 9, the Porttr- 
guese 18, the Russians and Spaniards make up the remain- 
der. But neither the Venetians nor Genoese now send one 
single ship to India.” 

In the present day "when the mercantile interest of 
Calcutta is of such vast consequence, it is interesting to 
look back at the objects that were once made against it. 
From a pamphlet published in 1621 we give the following 
objections to trade with India. 

1. It was a happie thing for Ghristendome (say many 
men) that the navigation to the East Indies, by way of the 



102 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


Cape of Good Hope, had never been found out ; for in 
the fleets of shippes, which arc sent thither yearly out 
of England, PortingalJ, and the low countries, the gold,, 
silver, and coyne of Christendome, and particularly of 
this KindomCj is exhausted, to buy unncccssaric wares. 

2 The timber, planckc, and other materials for 
making of shipping, is excccdinglic wasted, and made 
dearer, by the building of so many great shippes, as arc 
yearly sent to trade in the East Indies ; and yet the 
state hath no use of any of them upon occasion. For 
either they are not here ; or else they come heme vcric 
weake and unserviceable. 

3. The voyages to the East Indies do greatly con- 
lume our victuals, and our marriners leaving many poorc 
widdowes and children unrelieved. Besides, that many 
shippes arc yearcly sent forth to the East Indies, and few 
we sec as yet returned. Also this trade hath greatly 
decaied thelraffiquc and shipping, which were wont to 
bee employed in to the streights. And yet the said Trade 
of the East Indies, is found very unprofitable to the 
Adventurers. Neither doth the commonwealth finde any 
benefit by the cheapenesse of spice and Indico, more than 
it times past. 

It is generally observed, that His Majestie’s Mint 
hath had but little employment ever sithcncc the East 
India Trade began j wherefore it is manifest, that the 
only remedie for this, and so many evils, besides, is to 
put downc this Trade. For what other remedy can there 
been fdflhe good of the commonwealth 

In some thoughts on the present state of our trade 
to India, by a merchant of London in 1758, it is thus 
mentioned. 

“Tea mean dirty drug, established by luxury, is become 
a necessary of life. Ridiculed by the Chinese our hardy 
scemen brave all climates, difficulties, l^^crbs and baked 
earthenwares^ Infatuation 

Ship Bwilding io be risk after 1770, teak wood 



OALOUFTA nr THE OLMK TIMM — ^IT0 FMOPLM 


103 


being chiefly used ; we have an accout of the launch of a 
ship, built by Captain Watson at bis dockyard Kidder- 
pore. Warren Hastings and his lady were present at the 
launch and subsequent entertainment. After thiS| Indian 
ship building was viewed with enormous jealousy in 
London by all the dockyard men and shipwrights connec* 
ted with Leadenhall Street. Even as late as 1813 a writer in 
England states — *'i8 it not a matter to be deplored, that the 
Company should employ the natives of India in building 
their ships, to the actual injury and positive loss of 
this nation, from which they received their charter. 
Mistaken as the Company have been in this particular^ 
it is not very difficult to divine what will take place^ 
if an unrestrained commerce shall be permitted : if British 
eapital shall be carried to India by British speculators, 
we may expect a vast increase of dockyards in that coun- 
try, and a proportional increase of detriment to the arti- 
fices of Britain**. The selfishness of English landowners was 
invoked that teak should give place to oak. 

Taylors formerly made a rich harvest by their trade, 
at the beginning of this century ; but not so great, as one 
Martin, who went out a taylor in the Lord Clive Indiaman 
in 1763. He found his trade so profitable that he refused 
to exchange it for an Ensign’s commission, and in ten years 
he gave his friends a dinner served up on silver plate, and 
shortly after retired to Europe with a fortune of 2 lacs. 

Undertakers drove a more profitable trade, and the 
good-will of a rainy season was worth half a lakh of 
Rupees to them. 

Milliners settled early in Calcutta *'to the great dismay 
of husbands who are observed to turn pale as ashes on the 
bare mention of their wives being sent to enter milliners, 
shops for control in not an article of matrimonial rule at 
Calcutta”. White gentlemen conformed in dress to the 
requirements of the climate, the ladies of Calcutta dressed 
like the Indies of London, except that their fashions were 
some 12 months old. But these were days when ‘^Nawab* 



104 


OJliOUTTA AND ITS HBIQHBOUBHOOD 


ism was stumbling block of their ambition^ and flattery 
the daily incense of their sex”. In 1780, af^ears in the 
Calcutta papers the following notice, stating the complaint 
of the ladies, **that the retailers of China cargoes, more 
particularly of silks and other articles proper for their 
wear, would be more consistent with mercantile fairness, 
to display their good to the ladies and gentlemen of the 
town in general before they permit. Taylors and other 
shopkeepers (at hours too early for them) to select all the 
choice assortments in order to dispose of them hereafter, 
at an enhanced and exorbitant rate. Ladies and Gentle- 
men giving as good a price for their purchases as taylors, 
are rather preferably entitled to the prior choice ; and 
also to observe to them that if this unfair practice be con- 
tinued they are determined not to give themselves that 
trouble of attending their sales*\ 

Gentlemen’s dress is different from last century. 
Williamson writes of it before 1800. “In many instances, 
these evening visits are paid in a very airy manner : coats 
being often dispensed with the gentlemen wearing only 
an upper and an under waist coat both of white linen and 
the former having sleeves. Such would appear an extra- 
ordinary freedom, were it not established by custom, 
though it generally happens that gentlemen newly arrived 
from Europe, specially the officers of His Majesty’s Regi- 
ments, wear their coats and prefer undergoing a kind of 
warm bath of the most distressing description both to 
themselves and to their neighours ; but in the course of 
time, they fall in with the local wages, and, though they 
may enter the room that cumbrous habit, rarely fail to 
divest themselves of it, so soon as the first ceremonies are 
over, in favour of an upper waistcoat which a servant has 
In readiness”. 

Lord Valentia in 1804 states that English cloth as being 
more fashionable was superseding White* It was gradual, 
white so suitable to the climate was eventually superseded 
^ only by Alpaca. There was one singular article of dress. 



OALOCrrTA IN THH OLDBX TIMB-^ITS PBOPLE 


105 


liowevcr, Grand Pre states to be secure from the attacks 
of mosquitos, it is the custom to wear within doors, of one 
Btays any time, whether for meals or any other purpose, 
pmste-board round the legs. The change from white to black 
became very profitable to the tailors. 

Grand Prerepresents the English as trying the cultiva- 
tion of the sugar-cane about 1794. ^‘Messrs. Lambert 
and Ross were the first who engaged in the speculation. 
I visited their plantation, and had the pleasure of seeing 
that their Helds looked well, and were in good order, and 
the canes promising, though smaller than those of the 
Antilles ; this disadvantage however is compensated by 
the quantity of juice they yield, which is owing to the 
peculiar quantity of the soil in which they arc planted. 
The only thing that dissatisHed me was that misplaced 
economy seemed to have presided in the establishment of 
the manufaciories. The buildings were good, the coppers 
extensive and the mill well executed, but it was worked by 
oxen, which have neither the strength or perseverance 
of the mules in the West Indies. A water mill certainly 
would be much more simple and preferable and Ganges 
is rapid enough to afford a fall of water that would set 
any wheel in motion. At the period of which I speak, 
the natives were too little acquainted with business of this 
Icind Co be capable of conducting it, and workmen were 
accordingly brought from China for the purpose’’* 

We find the reward offered for returning a very elegant 
pair of candle shades, in 1780 was 40 Sicca Rupees. About 
1780 the rent of an upper-roomed house, consisting of a 
hall and two small rooms amounted to 150 Rupees io 
Calcutta ; in fashionable part it was 300 to 400 Rupees. 
The Bungalows of the day were equally dear. Food stood 
thus in 1778 : whole sheep costs about two Rupees ; a 

lamb one Rupee ; six good fowls or ducks ditto,— two 
pounds butter diito, — twelve pounds of bread ditto — and a 
pintof veal ditto,— good cheese two months ago sold at the 
<normous price of three or four Rupees per pound, but 



106 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEI0HBOUBHOOD 


now you may buy it for one and half. English claret selU 
at this time for sixty Rupees a dozen. Housewives now 
must envy past time when they read the following account 
of Captain Williamson. *‘Thc average price of a sheep 
fit for fatting, is about a Rupee : but that price has only 
existed for twenty years. Before that date, the common 
value of a coarges (or score) was from six to eight Rupees ; 
and I recollect, about twenty-nine years back, when 
marching from Bcrhamporc to Cawnpore with detach- 
ment of European recruits, seeing several coarges brought 
for their use by the contractor’s sircar, at three and three 
and half Rupees : At the latter rate six sheep were pur- 
chased for a Rupee ; which in British currency would be 
five pence each” I About 1780 salt was one Rupee a maund 
brandy 2 Rupees 8 annas a gallon, rum 1 Rupee 8 annas 
a gallon, porter 100 Rupees per cask, Bandel sugar 7^ 
Rupees a maund. 

We give the rate of wage$^ recommended by Messrs. 
Beacher, Frankland and Halwell, Zemindars of Calcutta^ 
to the President, and Council for their approbation and 
concurrence in 1759. And also what in the month of 
February 1787, at a general meeting of a committee of 
the principal inhabitants of Calcutta, was fixed on and 
shortly after transmitted to the Right Honourable the 
Governor-General for his approval. We also append that 
for 1801. Hadley, about 1780, mentions the following as 
the expenditure. ^^A Captain in garrison requires about 
thirty servants, namely a cashier at 20 rupees per 
month ; house-steward, 10 rupees \ a market man, 4 
rupees two pice; two running footmen, 8 rupees; a messen- 
ger, 4 rupees ; 8 bearers for the palanquin, 33 rupees ; 
pipe bearer, 4 rupees ; woman to clean the house, 4 rupees;, 
porter at the door 4 rupees ; linkboy, 4 rupees ; neces- 
sary man 2 rupees ; broomman, 6 rupees ; and grass cutter 
2 rupees. Whether wages arose ? we cannot say* But thia 
establishment about 20 years ago would hati^e cost monthly 
113 rupees, (about 141). If he keeps a female house*- 



OAunTTTA nr tbm olbmm Tma — its fxotls 


lOT 



1759 

Arcot Rs. 

1787 1801 

Sicca Rs. Rs. Rs. 

Consumer 

5 

11 

10 to 25 

Ghubdar 

5 

5 

15 „ 30 

Head Cook 

5 

6 

10 „ 20 

Coachman 

5 

10 

10 „ 16 

Head female-servant 

5 


8 „ 15 

Jammadar 

4 

12 

6 10 

Kidmutdar 

3 

H 

6 12 

Cook’s first mate 

3 

5 

6 „ 10 

Head bearer ... 

3 

5 

» 8 

Second female-servant 

3 


4 „ 6 

Peons 

2 

51 

4 

Bearers 

2 


15 „ 20 

Washerman to a family ... 

3 

10 

6 „ 8 

Do to a single gentleman ’ 

li 

4 

5 „ 6 

Syce 

2 

41 

6 „ 4 

Shaving Barber 

11 

11 

2 ,, 4 

Hair dresser ... 

11 

51 

6 Ifi 

Khurtchburdar 

2 


4 

House Mally ... 

2 

3 

4 

Grass Gutter ... 

H 

2 

2 4 

Harry woman to a family 

2 

5 


Do to a single person 

1 


r Treble and 
[ quadruple 

Wet Nurse 

4 

1 

"Besides 

Cloths and 
, Pawn 16. 

Dry Nurse 

4 

1 

Besides 

Pawn DOs 
. 12 to 16 


keeper and a carriage his expenses will be more. In 
the field he will want thirty porters (koolces), as every- 
thing is carried by hand, at 4 rupees each monthly. So 
little were they acquainted with these matters in Leaden 
hall Street fifty years ago, that an order went out limiting. 





108 


OALO0TTA AKD ITS NBlaHBOTTRHOOD 


the Gommandcr-in-Ghicf to fifty kooiccs ; when 4n fact he 
can hardly carry his baggage with three times that 
number”. 

The distinctions of rank among Europeans were rigoro- 
usly insisted on in Galcutta last century, as strictly as at 
the Court of Lisbon. People were few, and the Anglo- 
Indians were equally noted on the banks of the Hoogly 
as of one Thames for social dispotism, though boasting of 
political equality. This led to many quarrels. Stavorinas 
states the following with regard to the Dutch, which is 
equally applicable to the English. 

The ladies are peculiarly prone to insist upon every 
prerogative attached to the station of their husbands ; 
some of them, if they conceive themselves placed a jot 
lower than they are entitled to, will set in sullen and 
proud silence, for the whole time entertainment lasts. 

It does not unfrcqucntly happen, that two ladies, of 
equal rank, meeting each other, in their carriages, one 
will not give way to the other, though they may be forced 
to remain for hours in the street. Not long before I left 
Batavia, this happened between two clergymen’s wives, 
who chancing to meet in their carriages in a narrow 
place neither would give way but stopped the passage 
for full a quarter of an hour, during which time, they 
abused each other in the most virulent manner, making 
use the most reproachful epithets, and whore and slave’s 
brat were bandied about without mercy : the mother 
of one q£|hese ladies, it seems had been a slave and the 
other, as I was told, was not a little suspected, of richly 
deserving the first appellation : they, at last, rode by one 
another, continuing their railing till they were out of 
sight : but this occurrence was the occasion of an action 
which was brought befor the Council, and carried on with 
the greatest virulence and perseverance. 

Lord William Bentinck was the firsi^man in high 
position to break through unjust and aristocraticdil 

distinction which have for so long period festered tht 



OALCITTTA Ur TfiS OLDJBlf TJMX — ITS PJCOPLB 


lOS" 


feeling of those in the less elevated grades in Indian 
speiety^ by extending the invitations in Government-House 
to persons, who, previous to his appointment, had not been 
considered eligible to so high an honour”. He opened his 
levees at Government-House to a lower grade, much to the 
displeasure of Civilians of Big Wigs. 

Breakfast is described as ‘*the only degage meal, every 
one ordering what is most agreeable to their choice, and 
in elegant undress chatting a la volonte ; whilst on the 
contrary, dinner, tea, and supper are kind of state levees”. 
Business was despatched in the morning. £uropear)s then 
did not work as hard in offices as they do now, and when 
Lord W, Bentinck arrived here he was surprised at the 
laziness even then prevailing. The Europeans were cased 
by the Keranies of a great part of the little work they 
would otherwise have to perform. The dinner hour last 
century was about 2 o’clock; it gradually became later. 
Lord Valentia states, in 1803 '*at 12 o’clock. Calcutta peo- 
ple take a hot meal which they call tiffin, and then gene- 
rally go to bed for 2 or 3 hours. The dinner hour is com- 
monly between 7 and 8, which is certainly too late in this 
hot climate^ as it prevents an evening ride at the proper 
time, and keeps them up till midnight or later, the viands 
arc excellent and served in great profession to the no small 
patisfaction of the birds”. They partook much of highly 
seasoned grills and stews ; a particularly favourite one was 
the Burdwan stew, made of flesh, ffsh, and fowl, a short of 
Irish stew, it was considered not very good unless prepared 
in a silver sauce-pan. Hartley House thus describes the 
dinner : 

twelve a repast is introduced, consisting of cold 
ham, chickens, and cold shrub, after pertaking of which, 
all parties separate to dress. The friseur now forms the 
person anew, and those who do not choose to wear caps, 
however elegant or ornamented have flowers of British 
manufacture (a favourite mode of decoration) intermixed 
with their tressed, and otherwise disposed so as to havc^ 



110 


OALOOTTA AKD ITS niQHBOXrBHOOD 


an agreeable effect. Powder if, however, U8ed«.in great 
quantities, on the idea of both coolness and neatness ; 
though, in my opinion, the natural colour of their 
would be more becoming : but the intense heat, I suppose, 
renders it indigible. At three, the day after my arrival, 
as in usually the case, the Company assembled, in the hall 
or saloon, to the numbers of four and twenty ^ where 
besides the lustres and girandoles already mentioned, are 
sofas of Chinese magnificence ; but they arc only substitu- 
ted for chairs ; what is called cooling in the western 
world, being here unpractised, and during the whole 
period of dinner, boys with slappers and fans surround 
you, procuring you at least a tolerably comfortable artifi- 
cial atmosphere* The dishes were so abundant and the 
removes so rapid, I can only tell you, ducks, chickens, 
iish ( no soup, take notice, is ever served up at 
Calcutta)’** 

Supper was light, at 10 o’clock, a glass or two of a light 
wine, with a crust cheese, then the hookah and bed by 11. 
Lord Cornwallis, on New Year’s day in 1789, invited a 
party to dinner a 3^ at the Old Court House. Turtle and 
Turkey courted the acceptance of the guests, a ball opened 
at 9\ in the evening, supper at 12, they broke up at 4 in 
the morning. 

People sat a long time after dinner, enjoying stillness 
in the heat of the day, *‘It is no infrequent thing for each 
man to despatch his three bottles of claret, or two of white 
wine, before they break up ; having the bottles so emptied, 
heaped up before them as trophies of their prowess”. 
Nor was this confined to the gentlemen. Hartley Hous^ 
mentions, — ‘‘Wine is the haviest family article ; for, 
whether it is taken favourably or medicinally, every 
lady even to your humble servant, drinks at least a bottle 
per diem, and the gentlemen four times that quantity’% 

In Stavorinous’ time 1768, ‘‘peas, beans, <:^bbages, were 
to be had in Calcutta only during the cold season ; in tb^ 
liot season nothing was to be had but some spinage and 



OALOUTTA Ilf TBE OLDSK TIMS— ITS FJBOPLB 


111 


-oncumbera”, but about 1780 potatoes, peas and French 
beams were in high repute. The Dutch arc said to have 
been the first to introduce the culture of the potatoes ; 
which was received from their settlement at the Cape of 
Good Hope. ‘‘From them the British received annually, 
the seeds of every kind of vegetable useful at the table, 
as well as several plants of which there apppears much 
need, especially various kinds of pot-herbs. They likewise 
supplied us with wines from which innumerable cuttings 
have been dispensed to every part of Bengal and its upper 
dependencies^*. The Dutch seemed to have communicated 
the taste for gardens to the English, they have on three 
stone terraces raised one above other with groves trees 
behind. The French also at Gyrctta had a magnificent 
garden. *‘In 1780 appear notices and advertisements in 
Hickey’s Gazette of Garden Houses in Baitakhanah, Bali* 
gunge, Tannah near Holwell Place opposite Murkes 
thannah } Commodore Richardson’s, delightfully situated 
at Diicansorc, Russapagla j John Bell’s eastward of the 
Sepoy Barracks at Ghowringhee, a piece 400 yards from 
the main road leading to the salt water lakes ; one with a 
hall, three rooms, and two verandahs on the Gulpi 
road near Ailypore for many years past. Mr. Crofts 
entertains the Governor-General ( W. Hastings ) and 
his Lidy with several other persons of rank and 
i]uality, at his plantation at Sook Sagur'', now in the 
river’s bed. 

With respect to drinks, beer and porter were little used 
Being considered bilious, — the favourite drinks were 
madeira and claret ; cider and perry also formed part of 
the beverages ; ladies drank their bottle of claret daily 
while gentlemen indulged in their three or four, and that 
at five rupees a bottle ! This was far inferior to the beer 
drinking prapensittes of various men 120 years ago, when 
a dozen a day was thought little of in Mofussil districts. 
A drink was in use called country-beer. ‘^A tempting 
Beverage, tuited to the very hot weather and called 



112 


OALOUTTA AKD ITS VIIGHBOUBHOOD 


‘country beer', is in rather gcrcral use, though water 
artificially cooled is commonly drank during the repasts : 
in truth nothing can be more gratifying at such a time, 
but especially after eating curry, country-beer is made of 
about one-fifth part porter, or beer with a wine glass full 
of toddy or palm-wine which is the general substitute for 
yeast, a small quantity of brown sugar, and a little great- 
cd ginger or the dried peel of Seville oranges or of limes ; 
which arc a very small kind lemon abounding in citric 
acid, and to be had very chcap*\ 

The houses in Ghowringhi which now form a conti- 
nuous line, were last century wide detached form each 
other and out of town. Asiaticus states — ‘‘Calcutta is near 
three leagues in circumference, and is so irregularly built, 
that it looks as if the houses had been placed wherever 
chance directed ; here the lofty mansion of an English 
chief, there the thatched hovel of an Indian cooly. The 
bazaars or markets, which stand in the middle of the town, 
arc streets of miserable huts, and every Indiaman who 
occupies one of these is called a merchant*’. It was a love 
of retirement, country quiet, and to be removed from the 
pesilential air of Calcutta, which led about 1770 the 
English in Calcutta, like the Dutch at Batavia, to reside in 
Garden Houses, such were Sir William Joncs^ House at 
Garden Reach, Sir R. Chambers* at Bhowanipore, General 
Dickenon’s at Ducansoor. Very old houses were built in 
Calcutta much on the plan of ovens, the doors and windows 
very small \ they had however, spacious, lofty, and sub- 
stantiaf^verandahs. In old drawings few verandahs arc 
placed to the houses, the Governor’s house and a few others 
had arched windows. But it is singular that they should 
have deserted the basement story, and occupied only the 
upper one, which is much warmer; the buildings were 
much stronger, it was with great difficulty, the Old Fort and^ 
Tanna Fort were pulled down, the bricks were cemented 
together as if they were rock* 

The substantial build and isolation of the bouse;» secured 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIMB— ITS PEOPI«B 


113 


them against fire. Fires have been frequent in Calcutta 
among natives^ but never to the same extent as at Raj-^ 
mahal, in 1633, when whole city was burnt to the ground. 
The bazars century were not pukka as now. The Mussuh 
mans however dealt in a summery way with incendiaries. 
Thus in 1780, a native was convicted at M iorshidabad of 
setting fire to houses, by throwing the tikka of his hookah 
on the choppers ; having been the practice of it, he was 
sentenced by the Phousdar to have his left hand and right 
foot cut of in public. In April 1780 we have an account 
of 700 straw houses burnt down in Bow Bazar. Another 
fire in the same month in Kuli Bazar, and in Dhurumtolah 
when 30 natives were burnt to death, and a great number 
of cattle. Machooa Bazar about the same time was on 
fire, as also the neighbourhood of the Hurringbarry. *‘The 
alarm tfie fire occasioned was the means of rousing severa^ 
foreigners from their lurking places in that neighbourhood 
who did not belong to the militia”. In March 178Q 
a fire occurred in Calcutta, in it 1,5000 straw houses wer^ 
consumed, 190 people were burned and suffocated ; 16 
perished in one house. In the same month it is stated 
“^A few days ago a Bengali was detected in the horrid 
attempt to set fire to some straw houses, and sent prisoner 
to the Hurringbarry, and on thursday last he was whipped 
at the tail of a cart, through the streets of Calcutta-r— top 
mild a punishment for so horrid a villain”. The pl^n ojF 
incendiarism adopted was to fill a coepanut shell with fire 
covered over with a brick, and tied pver with a string, 
two holes being left in the brick that the wind may 
blow the fire out. A fellow was caught in the act ip 
Dhurumtolah in 1780, but he slipped away his body being 
oiled. It was recommended that those owning straw houses 
should have a long bamboo with three hooks at the end 
to catch the villains. 

The furniture in houses was much less last century than 
now, as besides the expense of European furniture in those 
days, it was considered as heating tfie bouse and affording 

—8 



114 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NfllOHBOURHOOD 


shelter to vermin which were then more abyndant from 
the swamps near Calcutta. Chinese was therefore used. 
Mrs. Kindersley states on this point : ‘‘Furniture is so 
exorbitantly dear, and so very difficult to procure, that 
one seldom sees a room where all the chairs are of one 
sort ; people of first consequence are forced to pick them 
up as they can cither from the Captains of European ships 
or from China, or having sets made by blundering carpen- 
ters of the country, or send for them to Bombay which arc 
generally received about three years after they arc bes- 
poke ; so that those people who have great good Inch gene- 
rally get their houses tolerably well equipped by the time 
they arc quitting them to return to England”. Glass 
windows were very dear. Warren Hastings was one of the 
few that have them. Mrs. Kindersley states, — “many 
of the new built houses have glass windows which are 
pleasant to the eye, but not so well calculated for the 
climate, as the old ones which are made of cane”. Vene- 
tian blinds were used instead of verandahs. Cocoanut oil 
was not much used by Europeans ; they lighted up the 
room with wax candles placed under glass-shades to pre- 
vent their extinction from the free admission of the evening 
breeze. Pankhas were not much in use as late as in the 
beginning of this century ; even in the time of the Marquis 
of Wellesley who was fond of style, fans or chouries made 
of palm leaves only were used, which must have been very 
disagreeable in large panes. A class of natives was em- 
ploycfjjfor this purpose called Kittesaw boys “dressed 'in 
white muslin jackets, tied round the waist with green 
sashes, and gartered at the knees in like manner with the 
puckered sleeves in England, with white turbans, bound 
by the same coloured ribband^. But people moderated 
the heat by sleeping in the afternoon, and drinking their 
tea in the airy verandahs. They certainly wanted cooling 
when they began, like the people of^St. Petersburg, to 
build in the Grecian style of architecture with high pillars 
admititing heat, glare, and damp^ Punkahs are said to 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIME— ITS PSOFLB 115 

have originated here by accident^ towards the close of 
^ast century* A clerk in a Government office discovered 
accidentally that the leaf of a lable, suspended to the 
veiling and waved, cooled the room ; he worked out the 
idea and hence the punkah. 

Wealth, leisure, and the climate brought in habits of 
drinking and debauchery — but Calcutta people never seem 
to have had such drinking bouts as were common iq 
Ireland 70 years ago among the squireens. Concubinage 
was prevalent. Captain Williamson writing of 1800 states, 
‘‘The mention of plurality of many concubines, may 
possibly startle many of my readers, especially those of 
the finer ; but such in common among natives of opulence 
and is not unprecedented among Europeans. I have 
known various instances of two ladies being conjointly 
domesticated ; and one, of an elderly military character, 
who solaced himself with no less than sixteen of all sorts 
and sizes ! Being interrogated by a friend as to what he 
did with such a number. Oh ! replied he, I give them a 
little rice, and let them run about. This same gentleman, 
when paying his addresses to an elegant young woman 
lately arrived from Europe, but who was informed by the 
lady at whose house she was residing of the state of affairs ^ 
the description closed with ‘Pray, my dear, how should 
like to share a sixteenth of Major He puls down the 
cost of a mistress as a regular item of expenditure at 40 
rupees monthly “no great price for a bosom friend, when 
compared with the sums laid out upon some British dam* 
lels”. Such a remark of his showed the morality of the 
day. A man in a Calcutta paper of 1780 recommends the 
Christians to follow his example of seeking the society of 
a mistress in the heat of the day. The author of Sketches 
in South India 1810, state , “Concubinage is so generally 
practised in India by Europeans, at the same time so 
tacitly sanctioned by married families, who scruple not 
^to visit at the house of a bachelor that retains a native 
^uistress (though were she an European they would avoid 



IIS 


OALOtTTTA AND ITS KlIOBtBOtmtfOOD 


it as polluted) that when, setting aside the married man^^ 
I calculate three parts of those who remain as retaining 
concubines, I fancy I shall be only confining myself within 
the strictest founds of truth and moderation’\ Civilians 
and Military went out as mere lads, before their under- 
standing was ripened. We need not look for a high toned 
morality in Calcutta a century ago, when we find such 
men as Drake, the Governor, and Clive bargaining with a 
traitor to sell his country, they themselves sharing in the 
spoil, while those dealers in treason and rebellion pocketed 
each some 20 lacs sterling. Force and fraud were the 
morality of the day. Nummurs quocunque modo ! What an 
example set to natives, when Clive, by counterfeiting or 
forging Admiral Watson’s signature to a treaty, defrauded 
the merchant Omichand of 250,000/-. Omichand became 
insane, Clive was made a peer, though he committed the 
same crime for which Nundcomar was hanged by English 
laws. Nor were they worse than elsewhere, such as at 
Pondicherry of which Count Lally wrote to the Governor' 
-^^*1 would rather go and command the Coffers of Mada- 
gascar than remain in this Sodom of yours, which it is 
impossible but the fire of the English will destroy sooner 
or later, should escape that of hcaven*\ No wonder' 
with such examples of morality in high places, than that* 
first Engineer of Fort William, Boyer, cheated Govern- 
ment out of some 20 lacs ; he afterwards entered thte ser-' 
vice of the Dutch East India Company. The following 
advertisement from an old Calcutta newspaper of 1781' 
shows what the prevalent vices were : — " 

Wanted 

A Resolution not to bribe, or a determination not ta 
be bribed. 

Lost.— The dignity of the high life, in attention t6 
trifles. 

Stolen. — Into the country— the inhabitant! of thcr 
Esplanade. 



OALgUTTA IN TH^ OLDB|^ TIMB-rlXS ^1'^ 

Strayed.— I^inccrity and cornufion honesty. 

Found. — That the idea of liberty is first verging to 
slavery. 

To be sold. — A great bargain — the reversion of 
modern honour. 

To be let. — Unfurnished — several heads near the 
Esplanade. 

Missing. — The advice of two able men retired from 
Public business. 

On Sale. — For ready money— whatever ought to be 
purchased by merit only. 

Scavengers* Contracts. — Any person willing to op- 
press the poor, many hear of full employment. , 

European Mercantile Morality has never been in high 
I'cpute in India, nor were the English worse than others. 
A Dutch writer, Mosscl, thus states of the Directors of the 
Dutch East India Company— *‘For a service of years they 
have been guilty of the greatest enormities, and the foulest 
dishonesty ; they have looked upon the Company's effects 
‘Confided to them as a booty thrown open to their depra- 
dations ; they have moat shamefully and arbitrarily 
falsified the invoice prices'*. Nor was the fault solely the 
wanf of principle on the part of merchants, it was owing 
to laziness ; Grand Pre what writes of Madras, appliei 
tp Calcutta also. ‘^Thc trade of Madras is still more 
completely in the hands of Blacks than that of Pondicherry, 
the concerns being more extensive and more increative, 
4tnd the sales more brisk. The European merchant entire- 
ly neglects the minute details, and looks only at the ab-^ 
^tract of the accounts given him by his dobachi : a negli- 
gence perfectly suited to the manner in which he lives, at 
a distance from the spot where his afifairs are conducted,^ 
which he visits only once a day, and that not regu- 
larly, and bestows upon them two or three hour^ 
attention"* 

Atkinson in his ^*Gity of Palaces" thus alluded to this 
State of things. 



ns 


OALOITTTA AND ITS KBiaHfiOUBHOOiy 


**Calcutta ! nurse of opulence and vice, 

Thou architect of European fame 

And fortune, fancied beyond earthly price,. 

Envy of sovereigns, and constant aim 
Of kin adventures, art thou not the same 
As other sinks where manhood rots in state ? 
Sparkling with proper brightness — 

There stood proud cities once, of ancient data, 

Close parallels to thee, denounced by angry fate’’. 

Nor was Civilian Morality higher. Clive, Sumner and' 
Verelst, appointed Commissioners of Inquiry into the con- 
duct of Civilians, thus report to the Court in 1765 : ^‘Re- 
ferring to their conduct, their transactions seems to 
demonstrate that every spring of the Government was 
smeared with corruption, that principles of rapacity and 
oppression universally prevailed, that every spark and 
sentiment of public spirit was lost and extinguished in the 
abandoned host of universal wealih. They state that 
the residence of Europeans and free merchants away 
from the Presidency, had frequently given birth to acts 
unsuit and oppression”. 

Dwelling was not very common, except occasionally on* 
account of **ladics of a sooty complexion”. Two trees- 
called trees of destruction, near the Calcutta Race Course, 
lent their shades for this purpose; Under them Hastings and 
Francis fought. Quarrdling however was very common^ 
just as in small towns in England where people have little 
to do, and little news, hence the remarks of Asiaticus in^ 
1778 wase applicable all along Calcutta }—*‘Thc infernal 
spirit of dissension perpetually stalks abroad, and the joys^ 
of social intercourse the ties of consanguinity, and the 
endearments of private friendship, are swallowed up m 
the undistinguishing rage of all-destructive faction”.. 
Those remarks apply especially to the divisions in Calcutta^ 
society owing to Hastings* and Francis’ quarrels. 

The following poem published in Calcd^ta in 1 780 on^ 

fllandcrt illustrates the feelings towards it. 



CALCnTTTA IK THB 0U>B2r PKOFU 


Ilf 


What mortal but slandor, that aerpent, hath stung^ 
Whose teeth are sharp arrows, a razor her tongue ? 
The rank poison of asps her livid lip loads. 

The rattle of snakes, with the spittle of toads ; 

Her throat is an open sepulchre, her legs of vipers 

and cockatrice eggs ; 

Her sting is a scorpion’s like a hyena’s shrill cry, 

With the ear of an adder, a basilisk’s eye ; 

The mouth of a monkey, the leg of a bear. 

The head of a parrot, the chat of a hare ; 

The wings of a magpye ; the snout of a hog. 

Her claw is a tiger’s ; her forehead is brass, 

With the hiss of a goose, and the bray of an ass. 

Micky's Gazette ^ August 1780* 

Voltaire sarcastically remarks on the quarrels of 
Europeans : — “To relate the various dissensions of the 
Europeans in India, would make a larger work than the 
Encyclopaedia. People cannot enough extend the limits 
of science, or confine the bounds of human weakness”. 

Religion was at a low ebb in Calcutta last century, but 
so it was throughout England, and particularly among the 
middle and lower classes. We fear Montgomery’s lines 
applied to the Spaniards, were only too applicable to the 
English of India. 

“The cross their standard, but their faith the sword ; 
Their steps were graves, o’er prostrate realms they 

trod ; 

They worshipped mammon, while they vowed to 

God. 

Talk of religion^^ihere was not even common morality 
in high quarters. Tippoo styled the English of his day 
“the most faithless add usurping of mankind”. David 
Brown was the first euangclical Chaplain that came to 
Calcutta in 1786, but his hearers were chiefly the poor; 
it was reckoned unfashionable to attend his Church. In 
religion the contrast between the last century and this is in 
tome points marked. Compare Lord Hardinge’s Sabbath 



12b 0AL<5u1?TA and its NKIGHBOnRHOOD 

Observance Proclamation with the horse racing practices 
ol Barrackporc, half a century before ; even as I^tcr as 1820 
when Buckingham started the first daily paper in Cal- 
cutta, it was published on Sundays also. Half a dozen 
palanquins or carriages about 1790 were sufficient to convey 
persons on Sunday to St. John’s Church : days when 
persons proceeded from Church direct to join the Company 
at a Durga Puja Nautch ; **thcrc was only one service, 
though the Padri’s salary was liberal and his requisites 
immense”. 

An anecdote is recorded of Lord Wellcsly's travelling 
up the country. He halted for a Sunday at a Civil station 
when he requested the judge to read the Church service, — 
but he was informed there would be some difficulty as 
there was not a Bible in the station last remnants of 
the days when Europeans ^‘left their religion behind them 
at the Gape of Good Hope to be resumed when they 
returned from India”. No wonder that respecting the 
treaty the English made with Jafficr Khan, Voltaire 
sarcastically remarks *‘Wc do not find that the English 
officers were to this treaty on the Bible, perhaps they 
had none*'. These were days when we find a Colonel 
submit to be circumcised in order to get possession of k 
Mussulman woman who would no other terms submit tb 
be his mistress. 

Notwithstanding the number of Scotch in Calcutta, 
Merry Christmas was kept up. Mrs. Fay writes of it : — 

^Keeping Christmas, as it is called, prevails here 
witl^all its ancient festivity. The external appear- 
rance of the English gentlemen’s houses on Christmas 
day, is really pleasing from its novelty. Large plan- 
tain trees are placed on each side of the principle 
entrances, and the gates and pillars being ornamented 
with wreaths of flowers fancifully disposed, enliven 
the scene. All the servants bring presents of fish and 
fruits, from the Banian down to the iSwcst menial j 
for these it is true we are obliged in many instaiicei 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— 7lTS PEOPLE 


121 


to make ,a return, perhaps beyond the real value, 
but still it is considered as a compliment paid to our 
burrahdin (great day). A public dinner is given at 
the Government House to the gentlemen of the 
Presidency, and the evening concludes with an elegant 
Ball and supper for the ladies. These are repeated on 
New Year’s Day and again on the King’s birth-day. 
No doubt the influence of Portuguese servants, who 
like pomp and show connected with religious festivals, 
contributed to this feeling. On Christmas 1780, the 
morning was ushered in with firing of guns ; the 
Governor General gave a breakfast at the Court 
House, and a most sumptuous dinner at noon, several 
Royal salutes were fired from grand battery at the 
Loll Diggy, every one of which was washed down 
with Lumba Pealahs of Loll Shrab ; the evening 
concluded with a ball*'. 

Calcutta Europeans led not a very busy life last century, 
Ijittle time was taken up, as now, in correspondance, busi- 
ness was despatched early in the morning or in the evening 
for an hour or two while the Keranis did the rest. There 
was not much need then of relaxation, for the bow was 
not mtich bent, but vive la bagatelle was the order of the 
•day. Notwithstanding complaints of the heat, and no 
punkhas to relieve it, dancing was an amusement that 
was kept up with great Zest Asiaticus affections ready 
^^imagine to yourself the lovely object of your affections 
already to expire with heat, every limb trembling, and 
«vcry feature distorted with fatigue, and her partner with 
a moslim handkerchip in each hand employed in the 
delightful office of wiping down her face, while the big 
drops stand impcarlcd upon her forehead". This will 
•enable us to understand the force of Lortd Valcntia's 
remark in 1803 ; — 

*‘Cosumptibn is very frequent in Calcutta among 
the ladies, which' I attribute in a great measure to 
their incessant dancing, even during the hottest 



122 


OAtOtJTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


weather ; after such violent exercise they go into thr 
verandah, and expose themselves to the cool breeze 
and damp atmosphere*'. 

At the close of practice ladies were occasionally retreat- 
ed to an exhibition of the wanton movements of the nautch 
girls, who exceeded, in stimuli to the passions, any perfor- 
mances in the bullet of the Italian Opera. At the Durga 
Puja time Europeans used to attend Pujah houses to 
witness nautches ; we have on account of one at Raja 
Rajkissen's where the head nutch girl, Nikkie, got 1200^ 
rupees and two pair shawls of the same value for attend- 
ing three nights. 

At the Subscription Balla^ for the cold season etiquette 
and seniority of service were strictly instead upon. Moore's 
Rooms were famous for the suppers after the ball — subs- 
cription 100 rupees for the season. The following is a 
curious advertisement about a Subscription Assembly. 

“The tavern keeper’s charge of 1997 Sicca Rupees 
for the etertainments of two hundred persons at first 
assembly appearing to the stewards too extravagant 
a charge to be passed without the approbation of 
the subscribers at large, they request a meeting may 
be held on Monday morning at the Harmonic House^ 
at 1 1 o'clock to take the above into consideration”. 

Billiards were a favourite game, thus described in 1780; 
“The sums won and lost must keep the blood in a perpe- 
tual fever, even to endangering the life of the parties. 
In private families, the billiard is a kind of state-room. 
At the GfKffce houses, you are accommodated with lableS' 
and attendants for eight annas, or half a rupee, by candle* 
light, a certain number of hours — every coffee-house 
having at least two tables ; so that men of spirit have as- 
many fashionable opportunities of themselves here, as^ 

9* liadies* dancing makes a curious impression on natives. One of 
thecU many years ago gave a description of an JQogHsh dinner party ; 
be ends with--** after dinner they danced in their licentious way» pulling; 
about each other’s wives”. 



CAtaxmA m ths olpxk timb— its pbofle 


188 ^ 


your Europeans can boast*^ Selby’s Club was a famoua 
gambling one ; but Lord Cornwallis put down public 
gambling with a high hand. Mrs. Fay writes of Cant 
phfying : ^*After tea, either cards or music fill up the space 
till ten, when supper is generally announce. Five card 
loo is the usual game, and they play a rupee a 'fish limited 
to ten. This will strike you as being enormously high,^ 
but it is thought nothing of here. The dille and whist 
are much in fashion, but ladies seldom join in the latter ; 
for though the stakes are moderate, bets frequently 
renders those anxious who sit down for amusement, lest 
others should loose by their blunders. 

Boating, in long handsome boats, called snake boats, 
are practised, in the evening particularly, with bands 
of music. Gentlemen kept their pleasure yachts, 
and went occasionally in them with their friends to 
Chandernuger or Shuk Sagur on pleasure trips. English 
as well as Dutch, fond of parties of pleasure, frequently 
made both upon **the delightful boats and upon the 
pleasant waves of the Ganges”. Europeans now do not 
call the treacherous Ganges ‘‘pleasant waves”. Stavori— 
DUS states in 1770 : “Another boat of this country which 
is very curiously constructed is called a Maurpunkey \ 
these are very long and narrow and sometimes extend* 
ing to upwards of a hundred feet in breadth, they 
are always paddled, sometimes by forty men, and are 
steered by a large paddle from the stern, which is cither 
in the shape of a peacock, a snake, or some other animal ^ 
the paddles are directed by a man who stands up and 
sometimes makes use of a branch of a plant to regulate 
motions, using much gesticulation and telling history 
to excite either laughter or exertion. In one part of the 
ftirn is a canopy supported by pillars, on which are 
seated the owner and his friends, who partake of the re-- 
freshing breezes of the evening. These boats arc very 
CXpensivCi owing to the beatiful decorations of painted 
and gilt ornaments, which arc highly varnished and 



124 


CALCUTTA AND ITJS NJBJDHBQU»HOQD ^ 


exhibit a considcrkblc degree of tastc’^^® It is mentioned 
of Warren Hastings’ friends when he wjas leaving Cal- 
cutta, ^^their Budgerows were well stored with provisions, 
and every requisite, &c., so with pendants flying, and 
bands of music, to the last man and instrument to be 
"found in Calcutta, they attended him to Saugur, the extre- 
mity of the river". Lord Vaicntia in 1803 mentions — 
came up the river in Lord Wellesley' state barge, 
Hchly ornamented with green and gold, its head spread 
eagle gilt, its stern a tigger’s head and body ; the centre 
would convey twenty people with case". The fact is the 
only drive was the dusty course — there was no Strand 
Aoad, and no country drives ; they had then to be take 
themselves to their river. 

Racing was always popular in old Calcutta. An old 
race course was at the foot of Garden Reach on what is 
now the Akra farm ; there was another however in the 
maidan. In 1780 a subscription plate of 2,000 rupees was 
advertised, and it was stated that at the close of the race 
the stewards will give a ball to ladies and gentlemen of 
the settlement. Allied to Racing is Sporting y which be- 
sides the exercise it gave to inactive Ditchers, was of great 
4ise to the natives, numbers of whom used to full a prey 
wild animals, at the time when leopards infested the 
suburbs of Calcutta. Hog'hunting was the favourite 
sport, and Buckra, 15 miles south of Calcutta, was last 
century the chosen spot. Mundy gives us the following 
vivid sketch of a party there which will give an idea of the 
social enjoyment connected with hunting last century. 

*‘At Calcutta there is — or rather was, the 
paucity of game has obliged them to give it up — a 
hog hunting society styled the Tent Club ; who, not 
having the fear of fevers and cholera before their 
eyes, were in the weekly habit of resorting to the 

% 

10. Th6 Director of OhinsutAh'o Budgerow oould Moommodato 
35 persemsat dioner. 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TlMB — ITS PEOPLE 125 * 

jungles within fifty miles of the city in persuit of this 
noble sport. Each member was empowered to invite 
two guests ; the club was well provided with tents,,, 
elephant, and other sporting paraphernalia ; nor 
was the gastronomic part of the sport neglected. 
Hodgson’s pale ale, claret, and even champaign 
have been known to flow freely in those wild deserts, 
unaccustomed to cche the forstcr's song, or the com- 
placent bubble of the fragrant hookah. Gaunt bars 
were vanquished in the morning, their delicate 
steaks devoured in the evening, and the identical 
animals thrice slain again with all the zest of spong- 
ing recapitulation. How often has the frail roof of 
the ruined silk-factory at Buckra rung to the merry 
laugh of the merccurial S — , trembled with the 
Stentorian tong of the sturdy B — and the hearty 
chrous of a dozen jolly fellows, who on quilting. 
Galcuta left a load of care behind, and brought a 
load of fun. The abovenamed deserted edifice is 
situated far from the busy hunts of men, in the midst^ 
of an extensive forest, and was a favourite resort of 
the Tent Club on these occasions. The ground floor 
was occupied by the horses of the party ; a large 
smaller apartments formed the dormitories of those 
who had come unprovided with tents. Some of the 
pleasantest days of my life were passed in these ex-; 
cursions, and I shall ever look back to them with the 
most greatful recollections. 

To the ardent sportsman and the admirer of na- 
ture, these gypsy parties were replete with excitement 
and interest — the busy preparation in the morning — 
inspection of spear-points and horses’ girths — instruc- 
tions and injunctions to syces and bearers — the 
Stirrup-cup of strong office — and the simultaneous 
start of the lightly-clad sportsmen, on their elephants,, 
to the covert side. Then the marshalling of thr 
beating elephants, the wildness of the scene anti 



126 


OALOUTTA AND XTS NBIQHBOUBHOOD 


richness of the foliage, the mounting ofynpatient 
steeds, the yells of the coolies, ratting of (ire works ; 
and finally, the ruck of the roused boar, and the 
headlong career of the ardent rider. Next follow 
the return in triumph to Camp — the refeshing bath 
and well earned breakfast. The suttry hours arc 
employed by some in superintending the feeding, 
grooming, and hand-rubbing of their faithful steeds ; 
lounging over the pages of some light novel, repaint- 
ing spears, or rattling the backgammon dices, and 
by others who, perhaps the day before where driving 
the diplomate quill, or thoundering forth the law of 
the land in the Courts of Calcutta — by others (frown 
not, ye bettlc-browed contemners of frivotous resour- 
ces I) — even in that recreation in which unlike most 
other sciences, the last experienced is often the most 
successful, namely the game of pitchfarthing !** 

Natives of Calcutta have seldom joined Europeans in 
the sports of the field. In the times of the Nawab of 
Moorshidabad it was different ; Kassem Ally Khan a 
century ago used to go with a train of 20,000 attendants 
and a body of Europeans to hunt. 

Shopping was another pastime, but for the ladies. 
Asiaticus writes — ^'European shops, which are literally 
magazines of European articles, cither of luxury or conve- 
nience, early in the morning are the public rendezvous of 
the idle and the gay, who ‘here propagate the scandal of 
the day, ^fi4 purchase at an immoderate price the toya 
of Mr. Pinchbeck, and the frippery of Tavistock Street**. 
Though sometimes great disappointments took place 
when, owing to strong freshes, the Indiamen could not 
make in time to Diamond Harbour — no new dresses for 
the season, 

The practice of Walking was greatly in vogue last cen- 
tury, and in the absence of roads and vehicles^as a matter 
of ncccs«ity. We find that Sir William Jones made a regular 
habit of walking from his house at the bottom of Garden 



0AL0T7TTA IK THB OLDBK TIMH — ITS PEOPLE 


127 


Reach to the Supreme Court every day, and that in the 
l>eginning of last century the Governor and Members of 
■Government walked in solemn procession to the Church 
every Sunday. Now use of the legs in walking is consi- 
dered vulgar. But the great place of exercise, i.c. lolling 
in a carriage, was a very good race ground at a short 
distance from Calcutta, a place of vanity fair for morning 
and evening airings, where people ‘^swallowed ten mouth- 
fuls of dust for one mouthful of air the course was not 
wanted is those days. People went there after dinner 
^‘lolling at full length'’, — it required a strong stomach to 
digest the heavy meat dinners that were then taken. 
There were few roads. A correspondent of the papers in 
1780 expresses a willingness to pay a cess as ^‘the roads so 
far from affording a recreation were a nuisance, and the 
exhibition of invalids in carriage afforded a lively por- 
trait of St. Vilus dance ; what may be termed taking an 
airing or pleasuring at Chandernugar, or Chinsurah may 
with equal propriety be termed taking dusting or jolting 
when at Calcutta". Writers just arrived from Europe 
might then be seen dusting away /our in ^nd, — a speedy 
way to sink themselves in the gulph of debt, gentlemen 
^carried on a flirtation with the ladies. 

Musical parties were occasionally resorted to, sometimes 
in the afternoon. There was the Harmonic supported by 
gentlemen who each gave in turn a ball, supper and con- 
x:crt during the cold weather, once a fortnight ; Lady 
Ghambers occasionally played on the harpsichord at those 
meetings. Pianos were very dear, 2,000 rupees being 
frecquently paid for a ground ; they were not seasoned for 
the climate. 

The Theatre^ built new, where the Scotch Church, 
was erected by subscription shares of 100 rupees each, 
about the year 1760 at the cost of a lac of rupees. Ama- 
teurs performed* though sometimes laughed at ; box- 
tickets were, a gold-mohur each. Yet it soon got into 
debt though amateurs, all males, good suppers after every 



128 


OALOCTTTA AND ITS NKIQHBOURHOOD 


rehearsal, and tickets for their friends. The doors opened 
at 8 ; the door-keepers were Europeans, “as natwes would 
not have sufficient authority*’. The Marquis Cornwallis- 
evinced marked displeasure against any Government 
servant who took part in the performance, and it gradu- 
ally declined ; its locality about 1790 was becoming un- 
fashionable, as Calcutta is now. Calcutta was moving out 
of town'’ towards Ghowringhi. The theatre has never 
succeeded in Calcutta, not even in the days Horace Wilson 
and Henry Torrens. 

As a sequel to the hookah came the Sivesta, or mid-day 
rest, so common in Italy and all tropical countries, sa 
refreshing to carly-risers ; it succeeded to dinner and the 
hookah. It has almost disappeared from Calcutta ; but 
last century “after dinner every one retires to sleep^ 
it is a second right, every servant is gone to his own 
habitation, all is silence ; and this custom is so universal^ 
that it would be as unreasonable to call on any person at 
three or four o’clock in the afternoon, at the same time 
in the morning. This custom of sleeping away the hot 
test hours in the day is necessary even to the strongest 
constitution. After this repose, people dress for the 
evening and enjoy the air about sun-set in their carriages^ 
and the rest of the evening is for society”. Many ladies 
now think it too luxurious to take siesta, but last century^ 
when it was taken by ladies generally, morning drives were 
in fashion, very healthy and more cheerful than a drive 
in the evening Calcutta streets, now so busy between. 
4 and 5 when men are returning from office, were then as^ 
still as the grave — all were aslecp.^^ 

1 1 . The siesta was however sometimes fatal under oiroumstanoes 
like those Hadlay states — '^Having ate heartily of meats, end drank a 
quantity of porter, they throw themselves on the bed undressed, the 
windows and doors open. A profuse perspiration ensues, which is ofien 
suddenly checked by a cold North West Wind. This brings on what 
i$ called a pucka (Putrid) fever which will often terminated in death in 
six hours, particularly with people of a corpulent, pletborio habit of ~ 
body* And we have known two instances of dining with a gentleman,, 
rad being invited to his burial before supper time*’. 



OALOUrTA IN THE OIJOBN TIME — TTS PBOPLB 


129 


The Hookah was the grand whiler away of time in 
the morning. East India ladies were said to have been 
much dedicated to its use, while gentlemen, instead of 
their perusal of a daily paper, ^Turnisbing the head (with 
politics and the heart with scandal”, indulged themselves 
with the hookah’s rose water fumes, while under the hands 
of the perruguir in the days when pig-tails were in fashion. 
We have seen a portrait of the late Mr. Blaquiere dressed 
as a young man when he landed at Calcutta in 1774, with 
the pig-tail forming part of his head gear. 

Grand Pre states of the hookah-burdar j — •‘Every 
hookah-burdar prepares separately that of his master in an 
adjoining apartment, and, entering all together with 
the dressert, they range them round the table. For 
half an hour there is a continued clamour, and nothing 
is distinctly heard but the cry of silence*, till the noise sub- 
sides and the conversations assumes its usual tone. It is 
scarcely possible to see through the cloud of smoke which 
fills apartment. The effect produced by these circum- 
stances is whimsical enough to a stranger, and if he has not 
his hookah he will find himself in an awkward and un- 
pleasant situation. The rage of smoking extends even 
to the ladies ; and the highest compliment they can pay a 
man is to give him preference by smoking his hookah. 
In this case it is a point of politeness to take ofiT the 
mouth-peace he is using, and substitute a fresh one, which 
he presents to the lady with his hookah, who soon returns 
it. This compliment is not always of trivial importance ; 
it sometimes signifies a gres^ deal to a friend and often 
still more to a husband”. 

Old Calcuttans paid ito visits in hot weather between 1 1 
and 2, it was deemed unhealthy. Mrs. Fay writes of 
visiting in 1778 — ‘‘Formal visits arc paid in the evening; 
they are generally very short, as perhaps each lady has a 
dpzen to make ,ait5} ^ ^arly waiting for her at home 
bl^sides, gentlemen also call to offer their respecti^ and if 

lUiiccd to pa^t down^ their ^§1 it is consid^ed as invita* 

- 



130 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


tion to supper. Many a hat have I seen vainly dangling 
in its owner’s hand for half an hour, who at last has been 
compelled to withdraw without any one’s offering to 
relieve him from the burden.” But when the dinner hour 
was changed to sun-set, about 1800 , forenoon visits took 
place. However, as but as the beginning of this century 
evening visits were kept up. “After tea on the chabutra 
or terrace, or after a puff of the hookah, some gentlemen 
went to office to finish their business, others to a family 
supper and same to a visit”. Captain Williamson writes 
on this subject ; — 

“When I first came to India there were a few 
Indies of the old school still much looked up to in 
Calcutta, and among the rest the grand-mother of 
the East of Liverpool, the old Begum Johnstone, then 
between seventy and eighty years of age. All this 
old ladies prided themselves upon keeping up old 
usages. They used to dine in the afternoon at four 
or five o’clock — take their airing after dinner in their 
carriages, and from the time they returned, till ten at 
night, their houses were lit up in their best style, and 
thrown open for the reception of visitors. All who 
were on visiting terms came at time, with any stran- 
gers whom they wished to introduce, and enjoyed 
each others society ; there were music and dancing 
for the young, and cards for the old, when the party 
assembled happened to be large enough ; and few who 
had been previously invited stayed supper. I often 

4^ A ^ I • 

vimed the old Begutn Johnstone at this hour, and met 
at her house the first people in the country, for all 
people, including the Governor-General himself 
delighted to honour this old lady, the widow of a 
Governor-General of India, and the mother-in-law of 
a Prime Minister of England. 

Gentlemen who purpose visithig the ladies, 
commonly retire to their houses between eight and 
nine o’clock in the evening ; ordin&rily under the 



OALODTTA IN THfi OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


131 


expectation of being invited to stay and sup^ on 
invitation that is rarely declined. Among ladies who 
are intimately acquainted, morning visits are common 
but all who wish to preserve etiquette, or merely re- 
turn the compliment by way of keeping up a distant 
acquaintance, confine them to the evening ; when 
attended by one or more gentlemen, on a tour devo- 
ted entirely to this cold exchange of what is called 
civility. 

Colonel Sleeman states that in 1810 Calcutta being 
more compact visiting was easier, as the European part 
Jay between Dhurmtolah and the China Bazar, the neigh- 
bourhood of Writers’ Buildings : the great tank was the 
Belgharia of that day. Men wished to be near the Fort in 
ease the Mahrattas or Moguls should again come, and 
permission was given to entry inhabitant of Calcutta to 
build if he chose a house in the Fort, but none availed 
themselves of it. Well they did not, for it was dreadfully 
unhealthy ; as a specimen of it until within 30 years the 
privies there were within 10 years of by the soldier’s 
mess table. Sir R. Chambers lived within eight of the 
present Cathedral, but it was far out of town, and dengcr- 
ous at night for the visits of tigers ; but the retreat was 
suitable to the habits of that learned orientalist whose 
manuscripts the King of Prussia has purchased. 

There were few carriages in Calcutta in the beginning of 
this century ; ladies and even doctors paid visits in palan* 
quins. How changed arc the emblems of rank — we find 
;that among the Dutch. The Director of Chinsurah was the 
only man allowed to be carried in a palanquin sitting upon 
chair. In 1780 , Coach-makers named Oliphant, Mjt- 
xjhcll and Simpson were in business in Calcutta. One of 
Jthtir advertisements was ‘‘Just imported, a very elegant 
neat coach with a genteel rutlun roof, ornamented with 
flowers very highly finished, ten best polished plate glass- 
ornamented with few elegant medallions enriched 
iwith mothcr-o^peatP^ 



132 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


There few excursions m^de from Galcuttalast century^ 
There were no roads outside of Calcutta, the road of 
Benares via Bankura was made about the beginning of 
this century, and was not furnished with Bungalows till 
about 1824. The previous road to Benares lay through 
Rajmahal to Benares along the Ganges, costing in a 
palkee or portable coffin, 1 rupee 2 annas a mile, or 700 
milcs=870 rupees — now to be performed for 80 rupees. 
The roads were infested with tigers. Captain Williamson 
states that when at Hazareebagh about 1,1800, ‘^during 
some seasons, the roads scarcely to be considered passable ^ 
day after day, for nearly a fortnight in succession, some 
of the dark people were carried off either at Goomoah, 
Kaunchitty, Katcumsundy or Dungaic — four passes in that 
country all famous for the exploits of those enemies to the 
human race'’. 

Budgerowa were available, but time spent was enormous. 
Thus officers were allowed one month to go Bcrhamporc 
by budgerow, 2^ months to Benares, 3| to Cawnpoor, 
Tigers were met on the route in the Gossimbazar island, 
kajmahal and in the Sunderbunds where ‘*tbey used to- 
swim after the boats, climb up the rudder, cheep over the 
room of the barges, and carry off the sentry, if sleeping on 
his post. They have been known, when one paw has been 
cut off, to endeavour to get up with the other”. 

European settlers with their hospitable roofs were' 
jfew and far between. 

Dspeoity was common in the outskirts of Calcutta. 
We have heard the late Rudfaaprasaud Roy, Ram MobnH 
Roy's son, state that when a boy no native would go ovt 
at night with a jgood sawl in the neighbourhbod of Amherst 
Street, for fear of being robbed. In 1780 in a Calcutta 
paper it is stated “a few iiighfts ago four armed meil 
entered in house of Moorman near Ghourihgfai afid 
off his daughter”. 

Of Baoe Aniagonim, io fearfully on the increase Iti Ihdibi 
Since transference from the Compai^ of tha 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEK TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


133 


"there was not much last century in Calcutta ; the invari- 
able principle laid down by the Company that European 
should come early to India in order to adopt themselves 
to the Coventry, and the severe punishments they inflicted 
on Europeans who maltreated natives, checked the dis- 
position to ‘‘wallop niggers”. However India has been one 
of the few countries held by England, where English rule 
has been one of the few countries held by England, where 
English rule has not tended to the extirpation or enslave- 
ment of the jiative, and the East India Company were 
generally coming round to the opinion advocated by 
Lord Glenelg and many other high officials “that the 
English mission in India was to qualify natives for govern- 
ing themselves”. The terms applied to natives last century 
commonly “black fellow**, and “black**. An advertise- 
ment in 1780 thus runs : — “found by a black a gold 
headed cane**. The term nigger used of late in this 
country, seems modern, probably imported from the 
slave states of America, as the increase of American 
Captains in the port of Calcutta is introducing their 
views relating to the nigger*'. 

A native in former days in various cases was obliged, 
if when riding he met an European, to dismast until the 
latter had passed. The Dutch however carried this prin- 
ciple further ; thus when the Director of Chinsurab was 
xjarried through the town (in a palanquin) the natives in 
certain localities were obliged to play upon their instrn- 
4pents of music. 

l^ Ireland the English Government minimized race 
antagonism, by introducing a strange religion, as a politi- 
cal objects y in India it was diflerent. In 1650 an incident 
occurred which had nearly endangered the permanency 
of the Portuguese establishment, but showed the tolerant 
principle pf the EnglUh* At Fort Thome, near Fort St. 
George, a Portuguese Padre had refused to allowlst jfiroccs- 
sipn of pass hirOhtirch. In this 

dispute'tiii^kagI»Ii'^most^ aVbiclid fnterfeiing, and 



134 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


after relatiag the transaction gave an opinion jn following' 
words of the Court of Directors, of the small hope and 
great danger of attempting to convert the people of India. 

this you may judge of the lion by his paw, and 
plainly discover what small hopes, and how much danger 
we have of converting these people. They are not like 
ye naked Americans.^^ but a most subtle and politique 
nation, or rather superstitious that even among their mere 
different castes, is growed an irreconcilable hatred 
which often produce very bloodie effects”. 

The vernacularsy the great agents to lessen race anta-^ 
gonism and to link Europeans in sympathy with the 
natives were little attended to, except the common hoU, 
Dr. Carey found it difficult to keep up his class at Fort 
William College, owing to this indifference, but another 
cause was that Portuguese was much spoken by table 
servants. Bolst was among the first Europeans in Calcutta 
who knew Bengali, and as Alderman of the Mayor^s Court 
it must have been of signal use to him. He mentions an 
anecdote, illustrating this ^ — In 1776 a Vakil of a Zemindar 
presented himself before the Collector, with some serious 
charges as if from his master. In order to substantiate 
those complaints he pulled out from his turban and began 
to read very fluently a complint in the Bengali Language, 
translating it into Urdu for the benefit of the Collector,, 
with some serious charges. But Bolst looking over his 
shoulder saw there was not a word written in Bengali, and 
what 1^ pretended to read and translate was his own 
invention. Captain Williamson in a later day, 1800,, 
remarks of some men 20 years in the country, who could 
not even take their accounts in the consequences were 
invariably, that he was rich, and master ever in distress! 
Even Kiearnadcr, the first Missionary that came to 
Calcutta, did not study Bengali ; he was occupied. 

See Letter of the Agent of Fort St. Georg^to the Court, dated 
18th January, 1650, and of Agent at Maeilipatam to the Court, dated^ 
2Sth February, 1660*61, 



OALOaTTA IN THE OLDKN TIME— ITS PEOPLE 


135 


with Eaglish and Portuguese services, and ministering to 
Europeans, though greatly to his own regret, for he 
found, as Missionaries subsequently saw, that the only 
real medium to get the masses was the Vernacular. 

The Nawab of Ghitpore seems last century to have 
held an important position in native society and as a 
member of the Native Aristocracy appears to have been 
a connecting link between the European and native. Of 
him it is mentioned — ‘^Formerly his residence was at a 
distance from Calcutta and his intercourse with the Euro- 
peans restricted to embassies, but now his Palace of Chit- 
pore (for wicll does it deserve the name of a palace) is only 
four miles ; and on such friendly terms docs he live with 
the military gentlemen, that he gives them entertainments 
of dinners, fire works See. &c., at an immense expense ; 
but always cats alone. According to the customs of the 
Asiatic Mahometans, seated on the ground which is over- 
spread by superb carpets (by the way, the only carpets 
I have heard of in India — the fine matting being, for cool- 
ness, substituted in their place) ; and what will surprise 
you is, that the Captain or the Commanding Officer of the 
Nabob^s guard, which consists of a whole battalion of 
black troops, is an Englishman, a younger brother of an 
ennobled family and who paid Rs. 80,000 (acquired in this 
world of wealth) for the appointment. The uniform of this 
battalion is the same worn by the Company’s troops — red 
turned up with white, — with turbans to distinguish the 
division thereof. The exterior of Chitpore in some degree 
bespeaks the granders of its owner, but I am informed 
things exceed the magnificence of its interior architecture 
and ornaments. The apartments are immense — the baths 
elegant— and the seragoli, though ,a private one, suitable in 
every particular to the rest of the building : nor must the 
gardens be unmentioned for they not only cover the wide 
extent of ground, but are furnished with all the beauties 
and perfumes of the vegetable kingdom. When he rides 
out a detachment of his back troops ascend him*’. 



136 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


After the East Indian and native noble the next link 

•> 

between European and native in the Portugucs — a class 
of people of whom we know little. We give the following 
as a faithful of the picture of them in marriage : ‘‘Pre- 
vious to the important day, each party chooses a brides- 
maid and a bridesman, denominated the madreea and 
padreea, who, in addition to the duties which brides- 
maids perform among us, arc charged with the superin- 
tendence and arrangement of the procession and enter- 
tainment. They often contribute something towards the 
marriage feast, cither a few dozens of wine, t^ wedding 
dress of the bride, or the flowers which are used on the 
occasion. All the friends of the parties are expected to 
send some gifts, in the shape of trinkets, or gilded betel- 
nuts and kuth ; those who give nothing, lend their 
personal assistance ; indeed, the following in an established 
formula, by which the old women acknowledge the little 
services rendered them by children ; — “May I die ! I 
promise to cook your wedding pillon !’* Friends arc invited 
by a notable woman, who goes about from house to house, 
repeating a set form in invitation. A large house is hired 
for three 'days, and filled up, magnificently or othewise 
as the madreeas and padreeas have friends and influence 
the gateway is adorned with an arch made of the trunks 
of plantain-trees and the leaves of palmyra, &c., and 
similar arch is thrown across the street, a short way from 
the house, along which the procession is to pass to and 
from the church. 

“Th^Hmportant day having arHved, the friends who 
meet at the house proceed to the church. The bride is 
generally carried on a chair, called the hocha palBe. She 
is covered with as much jewellery, chiefly gold, ai her 
friends can muster. Her department throttghout the day 
is a model of maiden reserve and modesty; l^dcordiib^ to 
the etiquette prescribed and hahddd do^n. Ai^iVdd 
the church, the person meets them alt the ehtiiiicd^ 
ties the hands of the uiah and ivdWath, is ihkkn hohd 



OALOTJTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ^ITS PEOPLE 


m 


•of matrimony. The return of the procession is met by a 
party of native singers, who chant the immcmorabic 
strain *‘Shaddce mobaruck’*, or propitious union. At this 
moment, the mother of the bride is expected to lament 
bitterly her separation from her daughter ; and at the 
nick of time, the voice of song is interrupted and drowned 
by her lamentation and outcries. Peace, however, being 
restored, the celebration of the marriage commences. 

“The bride sits in state, supported by the madreeas, 
under a canopy of bamboo sticks and gilded paper. The 
friends as they come in are presented with a rosegay and 
garland, and presented to the bride and bridegroom, the 
former of whom is tenderly kissed by all females. When a 
superior relative comes in, such as a grandmother or an 
aunt, bride kisses her hands and asks a blessing, which is 
bestowed by making the sign of cross. All being seated, 
tea and sweetmeats are brought in and handed to each 
guest, while the Byes performed evolution and chant their 
melodies in a corner of the hall, until it is time for them 
to come forward. The byes then sing and dance before 
the bride, and receive from her a rupee or sikkee in 
^recompense : in this manner they parade round the hall 
and receive similar gratuities, till the morning dawns and 
the company disperse. 

“Should the madreeas and padreeas so determine, the 
byes retire to another room, and preparations are made 
€or a ball. The bride and bridegroom stand up at the 
head of the ball ^ it often happens that either one or 
both cannot dance, or the severity of one or other of the 
parties will not allow of the bride’s accepting any other 
than the bridegroom for a partner ; in such cases, 
the. fiddles and clarionets sound of flourish ; they com- 
’mcncc, the bride curtsies and the bridegroom makes a 
bow, and both resume their scats, amid the plaudits of 
'tfre whole cbiripany. The ball then proceeds^ *‘Whcn 
•this Qld Pap New”, reels and country dances were 
in vogue to the tunes of “Drops of Brandy” and “Charlie 



138 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


Over the Water’’ *, a hornpipe was sometimes performed 
midnight, and was deemed a special wonder, ^he times 
may have changed since then. While the young *‘trip it 
on the light fantastic toe”, those who have no relish for 
such amusements regale themselves with wines and liquors, 
which are served out in an adjoining room, smoke, and 
chat until supper is announced. The whole company sit 
around tables arranged in one length, if there be room for 
the whole ; if not, the men very gallantly stemed and eat 
behind their female friends, off plates which they hold 
in their hands. The bride and bridegroom sit at opposite 
ends of the table and at a proper season the bride- 
groom drinks to the health of the bride across. Then 
some friend, who is deputed for the service and has^ 
courage and words at command, proposes the first at least 
toast — the health of the newly married pair. Dancing it 
again renewed, till the heep of dawn, or till some riot- 
living soul get fuddled, kick and cuff each other, and so- 
disperse the company. Before the one or the other takesr 
place, no egress is allowed ; the doors are double-locked^ 
and every one is made happy inspite of himself. Whctt 
departure is authorised by the superintending madreeaf^ 
and padreeas, a search is commenced for hats and shawls : 
and many a beak, who had entered with a span new 
Borradaile or Moore, returns minus a chapean, or takes 
up the shabby concern which has generously been left as a> 
substitute for his superfine bcave9’\ 

The Portuguese last century were the propagators of 
the slavepysystem, as the ruins of many fine places in the 
Sundai bunds bear testimony to. We find that as late 1760 
the neighbourhood of Akra, Budge Budge; was infested 
slave ships belonging to Mugs and Portuguese. The 


4.3* So great wai the dread of the Mugs that about 1770 a Chain waa 
rup aeroBs the river at Mukwah Fort (where the Superintendent of tho' 
Botanical Garden resides) to protect the Port of Calcutta against^ 
pirates. 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS PEOPLE 


139 


East India Chronicle for 1758 gives following statement 
showing the origin of this slave system. 

^‘February 1717, the Mugs carried of the most 
Southern parts of Bengal 1800 men, women and 
children, in ten days they arrived at Arracan and 
were conducted before the sovereign, who choose the 
handicrafts men about onc>fourth of the number as 
his slaves. The reminders were returned to the 
Captors with ropes about their recks to market, and 
sold according to their strength from 20 to 70 rupees 
each. They were by their purchasers sent to culti- 
vate the land and had, 15 seers of rice each allowed 
for their monthly support. Soon after this the 
Sovereign, Duppung Gerce, was deposed by his 
Gutwal, Kuddul Poree ; 25 men and a woman of the 
Captives took advantage of the disturbances, fled 
and arrived at Chittagong in the following June. 
Almost three-fourths of the inhabitants of America 
are said to be natives of Bengal or descendants of 
such who pray that the English may deliver them^ 
and they have agreed among themselves to assist 
their deliverers. From time immemorate the Mugs 
have plundered the Suothern parts of Bengal and 
have even been so hostile as to descend on the coast 
of Chittagong and proceed into the country, plunder 
and burn the villages, destroy what they could not 
carry away, and carry the inhabitants into slavery. 
But since the cession of the province to the Com- 
pany, the place for the most part has enjoyed 
quiet’’. 

Slavery was at one time very prevalent in Calcutta as 
advertisement in 1780 show, thus : — 

Wanted 

Two Coflfrees who can play very well on the 
French Horn and are otherwise handy and useful 
about a house, relative to the business of a consumer,, 
or that of a cook ; they must not be fond of liquor.. 



1140 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NJBIOHBOUEHOOD 


Any person or persons having such to dispose of, 
will be treated with by applying to the priifter. 

Wanted 

A Goffree slave boy ; any person desire of 
disposing of such a boy and can warrant him a 
faithful and honest servant, will please to apply to 
the Print<-r. 


To be sold 

Two French Horn men, who dress hair and 
•shave ; and wait at table. 

From the service of his mistress, a slave boy 
aged twenty years, or thereabout, pretty white or 
colour of musty, tall and slender, broad between 
the cheek bones and marked with the small pox. 
It is requested that no one after the publication of 
this will employ him, as a writer, or in any other 
capacity, and any person or persons who will 
apprehend him and give notice thereof to the 
Printer of this paper shall be rewarded for their 
trouble. 

Strayed 

From the house of Mr. Robert Duncan in the 
China Bazar on Thrusday last, a Gofree boy about 
12 years old named Inday; who ever brings black 
the same shall receive the record of the gold mohur. 

To be sold 

A fine Goffree boy that understands the business 
of a butler, kitmugar and cooking. Price four 
hundred Sicca Rupees. Any gentleman wanting 
such a servant, may see him, and be informed of 
further particulars by applying to the Printer.^ 

Indiana^ alias Eurasians, a class, wero^then now 
-:a peenJiar position. They ought to have been tho oppo* 
aients of r^ce antagonism, ttjiey despised the natives and 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIMC— ITS PEOPLE 


]41^ 


the natives despised them yet the latter giving them 
such contemptuous names as chichi maiia feringee, i.e. mud 
Englishman^ Europeans also had strong enmity with them 
and called them half-castes, country-born, dcmi-Bengalces. 
Captain Williamson in 1800 opposes their admission to 
offices of authority on the ground that “their admission^ 
could not fail to lessen that respect and difference which 
ought most studiously to be exacted on every occasion 
from the natives of rank”. The men of those days feared 
the East Indians, would mutiny and join the natives ! ' 
The author of “Sketches of India in 1811” gives the 
following, which embodies the view of Europeans last 
century. 

“Characterized by all the vices and gross preju- 
dices of the natives, by all the faults and filings of 
the European character, without its candour, 
sincerity or probity ; a heterogenous set ; some by 
Hindoo, others by Mahametan and Malay mothers, 
as Wills the caprice of the fathers ; what is not in time 
to be apprehended from the union of so large and 
discontented a body ? Why may we not expect the 
scenes of South America to be displayed in India ?^‘ 
A body who have neither riches, honour, nor any ad- 
vantage to sacrifice must ever pant for a revolution. 
It is a theatre from while they have every thing to 
hope, and from which, if unsuccessful, they can but 
return to their original insignificance”. 

Lord Valentia writes in his time of the fear entertained: 
of the East Indies lest they “should become politically 

J 4 There was a oIobs of BMt ludiaiis at Ohinsurahof whom Grand 
Ere writes thus ; “Het^e as in all the Dutch establiehmeiite, some Malay 
haye settled, and given birth to a description of women called 

Moaw. who are in high estimation for their beauty and talents. The 

taee is now almost eXtlnol. or is scattered through different parts of the 
ountry } lor tadhitmlli in Itb deoUiW, had no longer suffloltnt attraction 
L ret^«»eln,ahd at present a few oiOy. and those with great diffl- 
*1*^ ‘J*!*** ^ found”. We have not learned of those ■ 

oflateyeM*. 



142 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIQHBOUBHOOD 


powerful and be beyond control. They were in Calcutta 
clerks in every mercantile house, though not permited to 
hold office under the East India Company”. Lord Valen- 
tia was in great alarm lest they should follow the example 
of the Spanish Americans, and of St. Domingo ; he re- 
commends a law to be passed requiring every father of a 
half-caste to send them to England and prohibit their return 
in any capacity. Little was done last century towards 
educating the East Indians who were generally left under 
the tutelage of their native mothers — we may judge what 
morals they imbibed. A Mrs. Hodges set up a school for 
East Indian and European girls about 1760, in which she 
taught dancing and French. The girls married of quickly, 
but then their character was said to have been ‘‘childish, 
vain, imperious, crafty, vulgar and wanton”. Mrs. Hodges 
however retired in 1780 with a fortune. A Mr. Witchead 
advertised in 1781 that he had opened a boarding school 
for boys, opposite the Avenue which leads to the Nawab’s 
Garden, Chitpore, Rs. 50 monthly for boarders. Mrs. 
Kindersly remarked in 1767 “neither Mahamedans nor 
Hindoos ever change in their dress, furniture, carriages 
or any other thing”. Her remarks are still applicable 
to the Mussulmans. But Young Bengal with his Chop 
House and Champagne bills at Wilson’s did not live in 
‘her day, though the dawn of such a character appeared, 
lit is stated in 1780. 

The attachment of the Natives of Bengal to the 
English laws, begins now to extend itself to English 
halnliment. Rajah Ramlochun, a very opulent 
Gentoo of high caste and family, lately paid a visit 
to a very eminent attorney, equipped in boots, 
Buckskin breeches, hunting frock and jockey cap, 
the lawyer who employed in studying Coke upon 
littleton for improvement of the revenues of Bengal 
was with the smack of a half hunter worked from 
ills half reveries in great astonishment at the lively 
tramformation of his grave Gentoo client, who, it 



OALOUTA IN THH OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


143 


^eems was dressed iu the exact hunting characters 
of Lord March and had borrowed the fancy from 
one of Dardy’s Comic Prints. 

The Nabab Sidest Alley, when lately at the 
Presidency# employed Connor the tailor to make him 
the folloing dresses ; viz. two suits of Regimentals, 
Do, of an English Admiral’s Uniform, and two suits 
of Canonicals. At the same time he sent for an 
English Peruke maker, and gave him orders to make 
him two wigs of every denomination according to 
the English fashion, viz. scratches, cut wigs curled 
obbs, Queens, Majors and Remilies ; all of which he 
took with him when he left Calcutta’*. 

The Portuguese Padris never own knowledge, or did 
any thing of the vernacular, and their own moral conduct 
was very defective ; however the Anglican Church had 
an exception ; Kierorder had some good men among his 
Native Christians ; we have the following account of one of 
them in 1780 : — 

^‘Among the adult persons who have been baptized, 
is one Thomas of the Bengal natives, aged 24, who has 
made so good a proficiency in the Portuguese tongue and 
in the knowledge of the fundamental further of religion, 
that he has, since the month of October 1769, been made 
use of as a catecist to those of the Bengal caste to whom 
he is able from the Portuguese to explain the doctrines 
of Christianity in their own language*’^* 

16. While the Portuguese Missionaries in India were different to the 
natives and were more political tools of the mother-country there is 
another classes of Roman Catholics, who though in Bengal they did 
little, yet elsewhere were great friends to the natives— we refer to the 
.Jesuits of South America, and we give the following statement from a 
man who was no friend to the order or to priestcrafts, W. Howitt, 
,in his work colonisation, writes thus 

**The Jesuits, once admitted by the Indies, soon convinced them that 
they could have no end in view but their good ; and the resistance which 
they made to the attempts of the Spaniards to enslave them, gave them 
::asaobf a me amongst all the surrounding natives, as was most favourable 



144 


CALCUTTA AlTD ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


The native Christians of Calcutta were few fast centuryj^, 
and are now, after 40 years of mission work, little better 
as a class than the old Portuguese ; ignorant and socially 
degraded, few have embraced Christianity from conviction, 
but either to get food or employment. They tescmble 
in many points, the Portuguese Native Christians, but 
are not so bad as the Portuguese described thus, by 
Mrs. Kindersly : — 


to the progress of their plans. When they had acquired in influence 
over a tribe they soon prevailed upon them to come into their settle- 
meats, which they call Reductions, and where they gradually accustomed 
them to the order and comforts of civilized life. The Spaniards hateci 
them for prsHuming to tell them that they had no right to, enslave, to 
debanoh, to exterminate them. They hated them because they would 
not suffer them to be given up to them as property —mere livestock — ‘ 
beasts of labour, in their Encomiendas. They regarded them as robbing 
them of jaat so much property, and as setting a bad example to the 
other Indians who were already enslaved, or were yet to be so. They 
hated them, because their refusing them entrance into their Reduction, 
was a standing and perpetual reproof of the licentiousness of theii^ 
lives. They foresaw that if this system became universal the very 
pillars of their indolent and debased existence would be throirn dowoi 
Tor* says Charlevoix the ^Spaniards here think it beneath them to 
exercise any manual employment — those even who are but just landed 
from Spain, with every stitch they have brought with them, upon their 
qanks — and set up for gentlemen, above serving in any menial 
capacity’. 

One those Jesuits, Anehieta, established hlinself among the Indiana' 
as a second Tellenbury % of him at it is recorded 

**Day and night did this indefatigable man labour in discharging 
duties office. There were no books for the pupils ; he wrote for 

every one his lestbh on a separate leaf, after the business oi the day 
was done, and it was sonieiithes Jay-light before his task was ooxnpiete'J. 
The profane eongs that were in use, he parodied into hymbs ih RJf • 
tuguese, Castilian, ahd Tapinambun. The ballade of the natives 

underwent the Borhe ^tt'aVesty in theiir own toD^e’^ iHere the Ifiiial 
remarks of an impartial ob^i^er, ^*The final expulsion of the Jestiitii ; 
deprived the Indians of the only body of real friends that they ev^r 
'knew. Finer lilaterials than those poot people for aivilizaiich, no race • 
on tiMi ever presented. Had the Jesuits been permited to* 

odniifitm their peaceful labours, the whole continent Would’have bebbme' 
one #1^4^0000 of peace, frateinlty, and hapl^ihess^, . ^ « 



OAIiOtJTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


145 


‘•The Harri or Hellicore caste are the dregs of both 
Mussulmen and Hindoos^ employed in the meanest and 
vilest offices ; people whose — selves or parents have lost 
caste. But there is a resource for even the worst of these, 
which is to turn Christians — I mean Roman Catholics — 
and such as are the chief, if not the only proselytes, the 
Missionaries have to boast of in the east being mostly 
such as have committed some very great crimes, or have 
been made slaves when young, which prevents their ever 
returning amongst those of their own religion. If any 
woman has committed a crime so great as to induce her 
husband or any other person to cut oflf her hair, which 
is the greatest and most irrecoverable disgrace, she, live 
a thousand others, is glad to be received into some society, 
and becomes a Christian, so that most of the black Chris- 
tians arc more so from necessity than from conviction. 
The Portuguese priests, of whom there are many in India, 
receive all, baptize and give them obsolution i as soon as 
they are made Christians they call themselves and wear 
something like a jacket and petti-coat ; and the man mostly 
affect to dress like Europeans. Their language is called 
Pariar Portuguese, a vile mixture of almost every Euro- 
pean language with some of the Indian. This is however 
a useful dialect to travellers in many parts of Hindustan, 
particularly on the sea coast, and is called the Lingua 
Franca of India. 

They arc mostly in mean situations and are looked 
upon with great contempt by all the other Indians for the 
reasons mentioned. With these natives eflforts were made 
to plant in ground not properly prepared or manured, 
baptism was regarded as a talisman. No wonder it 
was said of them ‘^the whole of the European vices 
were engrafted upon the rich and fruitful tree of Eastern 
libcralism’^ and hence •‘that thief, drunkard, dog, and 
Christian became synonymous*’. 

Some of the Portuguese were soldiers or topasses, i. c. 
topee hat wearers, but they were not mucl^ better than the 

—10 



146 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUHHOOD 


late Christian Police Battalion formed in Bengal at the 
time of the mutinies, who soon backed out of their work. 
Of these topasses it is mentioned : — “they are a black, 
degenerate, wretched race of the ancient Portuguese, as 
proud and bigotted as their ancestors, lazy, idle and 
vicious with all and for the most part as weak and feeble 
in body as base in mind. Not one in ten is possessed of 
any of the necessary requisites for a soldier”. 

Respecting the Native Servants in Calcutta last century 
there is little worthy of note. Travellers describe them 
as “lazy, lustful and pusillanimous, one European is 
enough to put 50 of them to fight, very intelligent, and 
dificient in imitative genius”. The Banyans were the most 
noted, very wealthy, and very miserly. Europeans were 
very lazy, much given to revelry and sleep in the day, 
leaving all their pecuniary affairs in the banyan’s hands 
who knew how to charge their dustoori or costomeado. 
The European was more in the power of his servants, his 
bearer dressed, undressed and washed him, while his 
banyan managed all his money matters, some of the rupees 
sticking in their transit. Mrs. Kindersley remarks of the 
infiuence of caste among them : — “The bearer’s business, 
besides carrying the palanquin, is to bring water to wash 
after dinner, &c. one brings an ewer with water pours it 
over your hands, another gives you a towel, but it must 
be a Musalchi or a slave who holds the chillumchee, for 
the bearer would be disgraced by touching anything 
which contains the water after one has washed with it”. 
Servants in Calcutta were very extortinate last century, 
as now. Mrs. Fay writes in 1780 : — “My Khansama (or 
house steward), brought in a charge for a gallon of milk and 
thirteen eggs, for making scarcely a pint and a half of 
custard ; this was so barefaced a cheat, that 1 refused to 
allow it, in which he gave me warning. I sent for another, 
and after I had hired him, *now' said^l take notice, I 
have enquired into the market price of every article that 
enters my house and will submit to no imposition, you 



OALOtTTTA IN TttS) OLDBN TIME— ITS PEOPLE 


147 


onust therefore agree to deliver in a just account tome 
every morning. What reply do you think he made ? 
Why he demanded double wages , you may be sure I 
dismissed him, and have since forgiven the first, but not 
^till he had salamed me to my foot that is placed his right 
hand under my foot. This is the most object taken of 
submission (alas ! how much better should I take a little 
common honesty). I know him to be a rogue, and so are 
they all, but as he understands me now, he will perhaps 
be induced to use rather more moderation in his attempts 
to defraud. At first he used to charge me with twelve 
ounces of butter a day for each person ; now he grants 
that the consumption is only four ounces. The Durwan 
had formerly on duty invariably to perform in Calcutta ; 
during meals the doors were kept shut by him and not 
opened till notice was sent by the head servant that the 
plate was all safe.’^ 

It is difficult to account for it that in Madras, where 
feelings of caste are very strong, with respect to servants 
it gives little inconvenience ; in Calcutta it has been the 
opposite. Mrs. Fay writes, none of the Mussulman ser- 
vants would touch a plate on which pork had been laid \ 
this proved very inconvenient to the settlement, but 
people finding that the officers of the Fort had overcome 
^hat prejudice the whole of the ‘‘European inhabitants 
agreed to insist upon their servants doing the same as 
those of the officers at the Fort, or quitting their places. 
They chose ‘the latter alternative* and in about four days 
came back ‘again requesting to be reinstated ; and 
acknowledging that the ‘only penalty incurred by touching 
was the necessity of bathing afterwards.” 

The Xerani, or quill driver of last century, was not so 
exclusively a native as he is now. Education has enable 
the natives to supplant the Armenians, East India and 
Portuguese topiwalla or topasses from their office, as he 
vcan do the same work for one-third the cost, but Kera- 
nidom then was as mechamcal as now. A writer in 1778 



148 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 


remarks of the Bengali Kerani : — ‘‘Though tficy profess* 
to understand English and are tolerably correct in copying, 
what is put before them, they do not understand the 
meaning of anything they write ; a great convenience 
this to such a conduct affairs that require secrecy, since 
the person employed, cannot, if they were so disposedy 
betray their trust.’* 

“Keranis were found formerly, as now, big words.. 
Here is a letter of the last century, on occasion of 
an outer window having been blow down by a North 
Wester. Honourable Sir, — Yesterday vesper arrive 
great hurricane ; value of little aperture not fasten ; 
first make great trepidation and palpitation, then 
precipitate into precinct. God grant Master more 
long life and more great post. 

“P. S. — No tranquillity in house since value ad- 
journ — I send for carpenter to mark reunite”. 

Keranidom and education in Calcutta were then as 
now confined to Brahmins and Kayasthas ; of the former 
Holwcll, who presided 5 years in the Mayor's Court of 
Calcutta writes : — “We can truly aver, that during almost 
five years that we presided in the Judicial Cutcherry 
Court of Calcutta, never any murder or atrocious crime 
before us, but it was proved in the end a Brahmin was at 
the bottom of it*'. 

The Burra Bazar seems from an early period to have 
been the nucleus of native trade. The Marwari and 
other jjnerchants found there are all over India, and cvcib 
beyond it. Forster in his travels in 1782-83 met with 100 
Hindu merchants at Herat carrying on a brisk commerce, 
another 100 men at Tarshish, and others settled at Baku 
Mushid, Yezd, and a long parts of the Caspian and Persian 
Gulfs. Mr. Forster met at Baku a Sanyasi, recommanded 
by some Hindus to their agents in Russia,^ he was willing 
to go even to England. Hindoos have been settled at 
Astrachan as at Calcutta, without their families. 

The remark of the first Judges--‘hoping for the day 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


149 


'When all natives would wear breeches’, seems to have 
"trickled the fancy of Calcutta people. An article appeared 
in 1780 on this subject. ‘‘The poor oppressed natives are 
providing themselves with bear skin breeches instead of 
buck skin ; they are however prejudiced against the 
wings”. 

There was a class of native servants in Calcutta for- 
merly, which now scarcely exists, ptons to run before the 
palanquin and carry the master’s chatta or message ; the 
'chattaburdar who bore a large umbrella over those who 
walked on foot ; the Abdar of water cooler, — the Musalchis 
or flame bearers, whose business was to run with flaming 
'torches before the carriage when returning from the drive 
at dusk. To follow the palanquin, a set of bearers were 
necessary for every person, — the hookah^burdar to dress the 
pipe and attend while his master smoked it — the Chubdar 
or mace bearer i. e. Chapdhafy keeper of the peace, with 
his emblem, a long staff plated with silver, to deliver 
messages. Sometimes four were in attendance, but every 
man in Calcutta of consequence must have one. The 
Dutch Director at Chinsurah was allowed six, but the next 
to him only two. The Dutch were so particular about 
this mark of dignity that only the Governor of Chinsurah 
was allowed to have the mace all of silver ; the other 
functionaries were to have them plated. The late Bishop 
'Wilson was one of the last Europeans who employed a 
dhubdar. There was one inferior to him, Sontaburdar, 
who bore only a baton. The bearers of that day dressed 
and undressed their masters ; the Europeans having such a 
*^horror of the climate as to think every exertion injurious, 
like various ladies in Chouringi now, who though in 
health, are so lazy as its require being carried up-stairs by 
their servants. The Uriah^Bearers were an old class in 
Calcutta ; as in former days pagris were chiefly used. Wc 
find from a computation made in 1776, they carried three 
lakhs of rupees to their own country made by their 
business. 



150 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOTJEHOOD 


Another servants of the olden time, gradually dis- 
appearing, is the Portuguese ayah, of whom Captain 
Williamson thus states : — 

“Many Portuguese ayahs affect to be in possession of 
genea — gies, whereby it should appear they are lineally 
descended from most illustrious characters ; most of whom 
would, no doubt, it indeed abashed, could they now take 
peep at their ill-fate — and degenerated posterity. It is 
scarcely to be conceived how much pride is retained by 
women of this class ; they are found at adultation and love 
the dear word ‘Signora’, even to adoratives. To sec one 
of them costume being, as nearly as circumstances will 
admit, that of the days of royalty in France with a dast 
of the antique Vera Cruz : to remain them, I suppose, of 
that eclipse which a gradual intermixture with the natives, 
has cast upon their once tawny, but now stable counte- 
nances. One would think that the humiliating reflections 
attendant upon such a comparison, should prompt them to 
burn their pedigress, and to avoid whatever could induce 
to retrospection ! But, no, the ayah prides herself on that 
remote affinity, to which her records give the claim ; she 
retains all the offensive hauteur of her progenitors, which, 
being grafted upon the most obnoxious qualities of the 
Hindoo or Mussulman characters, makes a tout ensemble 
as ridiculous as it is despicable !” 

Calcutta in last century was the scene of the triumph of 
caste and superstition. Naked fakirs paraded the streets 
— the Aghori could be seen eating the flesh of dead men 
at the ^ats — holy water in which a Brahmin’s feet had 
been washed was highly treasured as a drink — space fires- 
blazed in the neighbourhood, as late as 1800, within a 
space of 30 miles round Calcutta, and in six months of that 
year 275 women were burnt. Brahmin bells, fearless of 
the police, roamed at large to the annoyance of palki- 
bearers and confectioners. Human sacri||ces could occa- 
sionally be witnessed at Kalighat. The monkey however,. 

1 3 troublesome at Benares, was not so here, though it 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS PEOPLE 


151 


recorded of the Rajah of Bisenpur^ the Rajah of last 
century, that *^he requested a guard of sepoys to destroy 
them, though against his religion, ^which holds the trans- 
migration of souls, to do it himself they would come into 
his house, and carry the meat of the table, and steal what- 
ever they could find. They often terrify the girls, assem- 
bling round them if alone, making the most odious 
noises'*. 

As an illustration of the power of superstition the follow- 
ing is the relation of an occurrence which took place in 
1670 : — The English had at this time a factory at Batacola 
(a sea-port next to the southward of Once) when a ship 
came too late, the Captain of which had a fine English 
bull dog, which he presented to the chief of the factory. 
After the ship was gone the factory, which consisted of 
18 persons, were going a hunting and carried the bull 
dog with them, and passing through the town, the dog 
seized a cow devoted to a Pagod and killed her. Upon 
this the priests raised a mob, who murdered the whole 
fiercely; but some natives who were friends to the English, 
mad^ a grave and buried them all on it. The chief 
of Garwar sent a stone to be put on the grave with hit 
inscription. This is the burial place of John Best and 
seventeen other Englishmen who were sacrificed to the 
fury of a mad priesthood and an enraged mob’. The 
English did not renew their factory there. 

The practice of Dhirna, or a Brahmin in order to 
extort money or secure a demand sitting opposite a house 
until it was complied with, the Brahman meanwhile fatt- 
ing as also the person against whom the demand wat 
made, was very common at Benares, but it occured occa- 
sionally in Calcutta. Mr. Fay states : Hindu beggar 

of the Brahman caste went to the house of a very rich 
man, but of an inferior tribe, requesting alms, he wat 
either rejected, or considered himself inadequately re- 
lieved and refused to quit the place. As his lying before 
the door and obstructing the passage was unpleasant. 



162 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


one of the first entreated, then insisted on hU 

retiring and in speaking pushed him gently away ; he 
chose to call this push a blow, and cried aloud for redress, 
declaring that he would never stir from spot till he had 
obtained justice against the man, who now endeavoured 
to soothe him but in vain. Like a true Hindu he sat 
down, and ne\/er mjved again, but thirty-eight hours 
afterwards expired, demanding justice with his last 
breath ; being well aware that in the event of this the 
master would have an enormous fine to pay — which 
happened accordingly”. 

The Mussulmans of Calcutta though adopting various 
Hindu practices, have never amalgamated with the 
Hindus. They seem to retain towards them the views of 
Timur who said — “The Hindu has nothing of humanity 
but the figure. Ambition characterised the Moslem here 
last century as much as avarice did the Gentoo, but the 
days arc gone for ever when a Mussulman like the Fouj- 
dar of Hoogly had Rs. 6000 Monthly salary and when 
the kora or whip was hung up in every Mofussil Court 
for the Mussulman officials to fayellate the Hindus in 1804 
the Muslims of Calcutta memorialised the Marquis Welles- 
ley because a thesis was proposed at Fort William College 
*on the utility of translations into the vernacular of works 
on ditferent religions.’ But they are in the script and 
in yellow leaf and even Tippu was obliged to employ 
Hindus in the revenue as he lost so much by the ignorance 
of Moslem revenue officers'\ 

Weffiight make any other observations of Calcutta in 
the olden time— its Greek, American and Jewish inhabi- 
tants — Its French and Dutch neighbours — its river ever- 
changing its course and fraught with reminiscences of the 
past. But the length to which we have already extended 
Ihis article forbids our saying more. 



Calcutta in the olden time — its localities 


The rapid changes that are taking place in Calcutta, 
owing to the increasing European population, and to the 
facilities of intercourse afforded by steam, — the spread of 
English education and of English habits among natives, — 
together with the more extensive changes that are likely 
to occur, when railways may make Chauringi as the city 
of London is now, a residence for keranis^ and mere offices 
for merchants, — suggests to us, that for the information of 
future residents, as well as for the pleasure derived from 
contrast, — it may be useful to jot down here, in a cursory 
way, the glimpses of the past that we have obtained, 
through old and rare books, as well as from conversation 
with the few that still remember the “days of ould long 
syne’*. There yet survive two residents in Calcutta, who 
remember Sir W. Jones and Warren Hastings, who have 
heard the tiger roar adjacent to the spot where now a 
noble cathedral and episcopal residence near their heads, 
who remember the period when Chauringi was out of 
town, when shots were fired off in the evening to frighten 
away the dakoits, and when servants attending their 
masters at dinner parties in Chauringi left all their good 
clothes behind them, lest they should be plundered in 
crossing the maidan — the Hounslow Heath of those days ; 
.and when purliens of China Bazar formed the aristocratic 
residences of the “big-wigs” of Calcutta — but these things 
iiave been. 

Let not the city of palaces, like another Babylon, be 
too proud, basking in the sunshine of prosperity : she may 
be hereafter as Delhi and Kanauj are now. Macauley 



164 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOUKHOOD 


vividly depicts to us the supposed meditatioijj of a New' 
Zelander gazing, in some after ages, from a broken arch^ 
of London bridge, on the ruins of the once mighty English 
metropolis. A similar fate may await Calcutta. 

Calcutta is the sixth Capital in succession which Bengal 
has had within the last six centuries. The shifting of the 
course of the river, which some apprehended will be the 
case in Calcutta, contributed to reduce Gaur to ruins 
though it had flourished for 2,000 years, though its popu- 
lation exccecdcd a million, and its buildings surpassed 
in size and grandeur any which Calcutta can now boast 
of Rajmahal, “the city of one hundred kings”, favourably 
located at the apes of the Gangctic Delta — Dhaka famed 
from Roman times — Nuddea^ the Oxford of Bengal for five 
ccnXuxit^—Munhidahad^ the abode of Moslem pride and 
seat of Moslem revelry (for vivid painting of which, consult 
the pages of the Seir Mutakherim). These were in their 
days the transient metropolitan cities of the Lower 
Provinces ; but they have ceased to be the scats of 
Government as Centres of Wealth. 

There have been other leading towns. Malcondi, OD^ 
west bank of the Hugh, is mentioned by one writer as the 
Capital of Bengal, in 1632, and Rcnncl refers to the city 
of Bengala at the eastern mouth of Ganges. Calcutta, 
^'the Commercial Capital of Bengal”, is now in the ascen- 
dent, though its political influence on India, ( happily for 
welfare of the peasantry is on the wane, and late events in 
the Panjub have given more their due influence to the 
North-West and to Mofussil interests. A hundred and 
fifty years ago, Calcutta was like St. Petersburgh, when 
Peter the Great laid his masterhand on it — the New Or- 
bans of the East — a place of mists, allcgators ar^d wild 
boars, though now it has a population of 500,000 of which 
100,000 camejn and pass out daily. Were Job Charnock 
to rise from his lofty tomb in St. John's Churchyard, and 
survey the spot where once he smoked his huka, and had 
'*thc black fellows” fogged during dinner to serve as his 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS LOCALITIES 165^ 


music, he would probably not be more surprised than 
would a denizen of Chauringi, who has never seen the rice 
grow, and is much surprised at the sight of an Indian pig 
as at a shark, should be a century hence wake from the 
tomb and find Bombay the commercial port of India, 
Calcutta a town of the size of Patna, a residence only for 
those who are not able to enjoy the comfort of willas the 
neighbourhood of Hugli, Pandua, &c. &c. 

Opinions differ asto the etymology of the name Cal- 
cutta,— called Galgotha by an old Dutch traveller, (and 
not amiss in the days when one-fourth of its European 
inhabitants were cut off by the diseases arising in the 
rainy season). We find that in Europe various cities 
received their names from the circumstances of monsteries 
and castles having been first erected on a spot which 
formed the mcleus of a town, as English words ending in^ 
(castra) show : in the middle ages this occurred 
very frequently. Now as tradition, existing rites, Puranic 
authority, &c. indicate that the Ganges formerly flowed 
over the site of Tolley*s Nala, and as Kali Ghat, one of 
holiest shrines in Bengal, has, from ancient times, been a 
place celebrated as one of the Pithaathans^ why may not 
the name Calcutta be a corruption of Kali Ghat ? Holwell 
writes, in 1766 : — “Kali Ghat, an ancient pagoda, dedi- 
cated to Kali, stands close to a small brook, which is, by 
the Brahmins, deemed to be the original course of the 
Ganges'’. When Job Charnock landed, on the 24th 
of August, 1690, fifty years after the first settlement of the 
English at Hugh, and smoked his pipe probably under the 
^hade of the famous old tree that stood at Baitakhana,. 
Chauringi plain was a dense forest, the abode of bears- 
and tigers : a few weavers' sheds stood where Chandpal 
Ghat is now ; there was, consequently, no object of interest 
nearer than Kali Ghat. It is not likely then that the old* 
patriarch called the locality after the most conspicuous 
object — the same as the field of Waterloo is named from? 
the largest village nesLT itf and not from St. Jean, which is^ 



166 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


nearer ? We throw this out merely as » conjecture 
— quantum valeal} However, the author of Sketches of 
Bengal sides with us ; he states ‘‘Calcutta takes its name 
from a temple dedicated to Galy’’. Another derivation 
chas been given from the Maharatta ditch or Khal Khattat 
which served as its boundary ; before 1742, when this 
ditch was dug, we have not seen the name given. 

The Dutch, the French and the Danes chose the right 
bank of the river, fully exposed to the river breezes, but the 
English selected the left: three reasons have been assigned, 
the deep water ran at the left side — numbers of weavers 
lived there, members of the patriarchal family of the Sets, 
who dealt with the Company, — and the Maharattas never 
crossed the river. Job Charnock left Ulubaria on account 
of its unhealthiness, but he did not gain much by the 
change. 

We shall, in the present article, limit our research of 
the branch of the subject — the localities of Calcutta. Our 
remarks will be simply gleanings. Many causes render it 
very difficult to pierce into the darkness of the past. 
Natives themselves give little to the aid : they show no 
lively interest in antiquarian or historical research, as the 
Records of the Asiatic and other Societies envice ; but the 
maxim of Gicerr holds good now as when penned — ^^Nescire 
quid antiquan natus six accideritidest semper esse puerurrC^ * 

We call our article “Calcutta in the oldew time \ * 
some men say how can you call a city of a century and a 
half, ol^? We have only to say, — Reader, such is the state 
of the British in India so crowded has been the succession 
of important and stiring event, and so shifting have been 
the actors on the scenes that what would appear in 
England quite modern, bears here as in the United States 
^f America, the air of the antique, and we look back on 

1. Though allowed by the Mogul the ohoice of a^y site below fiugli, 
be seleotd. perhaps, the most unhealthy spot on the whole river : the 
Salt-water like to the east left masses of putrid dib in the dry season, 
while a dense jangal run up to where Government House stands now. 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDBN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


157 


our predecessors to Calcutta last century with a similar 
interest to that with which a Bostonian reads the Wander- 
ings of Pilgrim Fathersy or a Scotchman, The Tales of Border 
Life, and The Adventures of Piince Charles, Our descriptions 
are only Fragments drifted from the Wreck of Time. 

A few books have survived the destruction which so 
certainly awaits old works in India, from apathy, frequent 
removals, or the climate : as of some of these, only one 
or two copies exist, and as they are not accessible to the 
generality of our readers, we shall occasionally make some 
extracts to illustrate various points in connection with 
Calcutta as it was in the last century. Though the books 
be old, the information may be new to many of our 
readers, and even to other may be useful in recalling their 
thoughts on a busy and bustling age, to the dim visions 
of the past, the twilight of Calcutta history. 

One of the earliest works that presents itself to our 
notice, is The Genuine Memories of Asiaticus. The author 
was Philip Stanhope, an officer in the first regiment of 
dragoon guards ; his pamphlet, containing 174 pages, was 
published in London in 1785 ; he came to India in 1774, 
the victim of disappointed love the lady of whom he was 
attached not being allowed by her father to go to India. 
He touched at Madras, dined with Governor, and men- 
tions in p, 38 — *^we retired soon after dinner, according to 
custom of the country, to take our afternoon's nap, which 
the heat of the climate renders absolutely be weakened 
by a continual perspiration”. 

In October of that year he arrived at Calcutta. It 
was the one when the huka, with its long pipe and rose- 
water, was in vogue : — 

Even the writers, whose salary and prequisites 
scarce amount to two hundred pounds a year, con- 
trive to be attended, wherever they go, by their 
huka-burdar, or servant, whose duty it is to pre-^ 
plenith the huka with the necessary ingredients and 
to keep up the fire of huka, their equipage, and 



a58 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 


their table, yet as this is absolute parsimpny, when 
compared to the expenses of the seraglio : a luxury 
which only those can enjoy, whose rank the state 
horses of a monarch, is considered as a necessary 
appendage to Eastern grandeur. 

He had been promised a situation by Warren Hastings, 
'but hailed, from the opposition given to all Hastings’s 
vTceommendations by the new members of Council : — 

The numerous dependants, which have arrived 
in the train of the Judges, and of the new com- 
mander-in-chief of the forces, will of course be re- 
appointed to all posts of any emolument ; and I 
must do those gentlemen the justice of observe, that 
both in number and rapacity, they exactly resemble 
an army of locusts sent to devour the fruits of the 
earth. 

He left Calcutta, after a few month* stay, for Madras, 
where he spend three years in the service of the Nowab 
of Arcot. In 1778 he visited Bombay, where *‘the settle- 
ment not being divided by factions, there is more society 
than at Madras, and the sources of wealth being fewer, 
there is less of luxury and parade than at Calcutta**. The 
-satne he arrived in London. 

In 1780 Mrs, Fay, the authoress of Original Letters from 
Jndia, presented herself on the stage. She was one of the 
first who tried to the overland route ; she was made pri- 
soner at Calicut by HydarAli, and was imprisoned there: 
she arrived in Calcutta, and mentions her visiting Mrs. 
Hastings^at Belvidcre House, **a great distance from 
Calcutta**. Her husband was a barrister, but joining 
himself to the party of Francis against Hastings, and uniting 
with others in resisting a proposed housetar, he was ob- 
liged, through want of briefs, to leave Calcutta in debt, 
his wife being deprived by the creditors of everything 
OTcept her clothes. She separated from he* husband, and 
found refuge in the house of Sir R. Chambers, noted for 
his ‘‘immense library**. After twelve months* residence 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIBS 169 


'she left Calcutta for England in May^ 1782, and arrived 
in England in February, 1783 experiencing the discomfort 
of hard drinking gentlemen on board, with a ‘Marge gun” 
in the port-hole of her cabin. She returned, however, to 
Calcutta, in 1784, and engaged in the millinery line — she 
failed, returned to England, but made another voyage 
'to Calcutta. 

We have lately met with a work called Hartley House, 
Calcutta^ printed in London, 1789, which, under the guise 
of fiction, paints the manners and customs of Calcutta as 
they existed in Warren Hastings’s days, when Calcutta 
was “the grave” of thousand, but a mine of “inexhausti- 
ble wealth”. The general varisemblance of them is occasion- 
ally from this book. 

A book called the East Indian Ghronoloyist, published 
;in 1801, by a Mr. Hawks worth, throws much light on 
various occurrences : it is a compilation with India, 
gathered by white-ants and damp : the facts are arranged 
in chronological order, and present, in 100 pages quarts, 
an assemblage of many rare subjects. 

A work was published in Calcutta called Historical and 
.Ecclesiastical Sketches of Bengal, which gives the fullest notice 
we have seen of the early establishment of the English in 
India, a particular account of the Black Hole, the re- 
taking of Calcutta, the history of St. John's Church, the 
Old Church, Kiernander’s mission, the Portuguese of 
Calcutta, the Americans of Calcutta. 

Old Zaphania Holwell, who rose, from being an apot- 
nccary, to the Governorship of Calcutta, published, in 
1784, the third edition of a curious and interesting work. 
Jndia Tracts, which, besides giving various details respecting 
our progress to power after the battle of PJassey, presents 
us with a minute account of the sufferings in the black 
hole. He was Zemindar of Calcutta for some time, and 
in this work gives a graphic picture of the cheating and 
<^vcr-rcaching of the native servants of Government of 
lhat day. Holwell was born in Dublin^ in 1711, and like 



160 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 


Other survivors of the Black Hole, he lived to a» green olct 
age : he died in 1798. 

Upjohn, an ingenious artist, published a map of Calcutta 
in 1793 : he died in 1800 — this map is very valuable, as 
affording a contrast with Calcutta at the present time, 
and thus indicating the immense additions since made 
in buildings and streets. 

Mrs, KindersUy'e letters through light on different points 
in Calcutta life about 1770. Grose wrote his Travels to the 
East Indies about 1750 — ^Grandprcy a French officer, visited 
Calcutta towards the close of last century, and has written 
an interesting account of his travels. 

Stavorinus, a Dutch admiral, visited India in 1768. 
An account is given of his travels in the East, in a work 
of three volumes. We have some lively sketches of the 
times in Calcutta. He and the Dutch Governor of Hugli 
went to a formal dinner to Government-house at half past 
12 P.M. — visits of ceremony were then paid at 9 A.M. 
Seventy covers were laid, and the service was entirely of 
plate ; after dinner, the huka was served to each person, 
and after smoking half an hour, they retired to their 
respective dwellings. At six in the evening they rode to 
Governor. Cartier’s country-seat at Belvidere, where they 
suppered. The next morning, at nine O’clock, the English 
Governor paid a ceremonial visit to the Dutch Governor 
— that seems to have been a fashionable hour for calls, 
probably, to avoid the mid-day heats. On the installation 
at that jjpriod of a New Dutch Governor of Ghinsurah, 
there was a public breakfast given at seven^ and the cefe- 
mony took place at 9 ; it was in the month of March. 

The principle of the association of ladies has a strong 
hold over the men : man wishes to connect the present 
with the past : — it is pleasing for a stranger, when travers- 
ing the streets of a city, to be able to observe the places 
identified with various events in the days of yore. We have 
The Traditions of Edinburgh^ The Recollections of London, why 
should we not have a pamphlet to put into the lands of 



OALCUOTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS LOCALITIES 


161 


strangers, to be called Antiquarian Ramble through 

Calcutta ?” Some of our pleasantest hours have spent in 
this pursuit in Calcutta, in endevouring to ‘"conjure up 
the shots of departed days’’ we shall now jot down some 
of our gleanings collected from fool and conversation ; 
some of these facts, though apparently trivial have cost us 
considerable search — but all bear, more or less on the 
point of Calcutta, as it was in respect of its localities. 

We shall begin with Kidderpur, then proceed to 
Chauringi, thence to Tank Square and its neighbourhood, 
then to Cliitpur, and conclude with the Circular Road ; 
noticing, as we go along those places which call up associa- 
tions oi the past, the dim visitor of the years that are no 
more, which remind us of the thoughts and actions of the 
buried generations of English who figured on the stage of 
events in Calcutta during last century. 

Kidderpur is approached horn the plain, by Hastings’ 
Bridge. Not far from Hastings’ Bridge was another of 
brick, called Surman’s, after a Mr. Surman, a member of 
Council — he was a member of the embassy to Delhi in 1717 
— his residence was, probably, to the south of it, in place 
called Surman’s Gardens, which will be ever memorable 
as the spot where the Governor and his party stopped, 
when they cowardly and treacherously deserted the Fort 
in 1757; this led to Catastrophe of the Black Hole. Im- 
mediately to the south of these gardens, was the boundary 
of Govindpur, the limit of the Company’s Colony of Cal- 
cutta, marked by a pyramid. Close by were situated 
Watson^s Docks, so called from a Colonel Watson, the Chief 
Engineer, who built the first ships in Calcutta in 1781 : 
an enterprising man, he obtained a grant from Govern- 
ment of the land for the purpose of making docks, on 
which he spent ten lakhs. Near those docks the Colonel 
erected a wind-mill ; but as it commanded a view of a 
natives zeanah, the native went to law and obtained a 
decree that the wind-mill should be pulled down ! This 
was a suit of wind-mill versus nuisances. Previous to this, 
-11 



162 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBODBHOOD 


two vessels were launched^ in 1769 and 1770, *but Calcutta 
had, heretofore, been dependant on Surat, Bombay and 
Pegu for its ships. However, famine gave an impulse to 
ship-building ! Good out of evil — the ravages caused by 
Hyder in the Cornatic, in 1780, roused the Government 
to a sense of the importance of the shipping interest : they 
could not supply ships in sufficient numbers to convey 
food to the famished population of the south Bombay 
had docks in 1735, but Kidderpore, not for sixty years 
later, which Waddel made in 1795. Trade advanced : 
between 1781 and 1880, thirty-five vessels, measuring 
17,020 tons, were built : from 1781 to 1821, the total was 
237, which cost more than two millions sterling : this trade 
of ship-building is not, however, so brisk now. It was not 
however, confined to Calcutta, as at Fort Gloucester, 
between 1811 and 1828, twenty-seven vessels, measuring 
9,322 tons, were built, and as early as 1801, a vessel of 
1,445 tons, the Countess Sutherland^ was built at Titaghur, 
near Barrackpur : the river is so shallowed since, that, 
probably, the experiment could not be tried now. 

To the North of Hastings’ Bridge lies Kuli (Coolie) 
bazaVy once occupied, like many other places, by a hand- 
some Musalman burial-ground, but which was pulled down 
to erect the present buildings. On a platform erected to the 
south-west of it, Nanda Kumar once Dewan to the Nawab 
of Murshidabad, was executed, August 5th, 1775 — the first 
brahman hanged by the English in India ; his death 
excite4 as great a revulsion of feeling among natives as 
did the execution of Louis XVI, among the French roya- 
lists, The foremost amongst the Mahapatak, crime» 
of the highest degree, or mortal sins of the Hindus* is kill- 
ing a brahman — the other four are stealing gold from a 
priest, adultery with the wife of a Guru, drinking spirits, 
and associating with persons who have commited any of 
those offences. Immediately after the execution, the Hin- 
dus rushed to the river to wash away the offence committed 
in seeing it^ by bathing in Ganges water. During three 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIMK— ITS LOCALITIES 


163 


^ays they ate nothing ; and subsequently, the excitement 
was very great ; menaces was held out to the judges that 
if they proceeded to court, their lives would be sacrificed 
as victims to popular fury ; but regardless of menaces, 
they marched in procession to the Supreme Court, attend- 
ed by all the paraphernalia of justice, and the threats of 
all the Hindus were as effective as those of the Calcutta 
Babus, on the passing of the Lex Loci Act. There is a 
native still living in Calcutta, whosejfather told him, that 
on that day the Hindus went to the other side of the river 
•to eat, considering Calcutta to have been polluted by the 
execution of a brahman.- 

The Diamond Harbour Road terminates at Kidderpur : 
*from Kidderpur to Bursea it was lined with trees : this 
road extends thirty-nine miles, to Diamond Harbour, 
while the river route is fifty-six miles : it must have been 
an immense convenience in former days for speedy traffic, 
when cargo boats, from March to September, occupied 
from five to seven days in taking goods from Calcutta to 
Diamond Harbour, or when a ship has been three weeks 
beating up to Calcutta from Diamond Harbour : the splen- 
did old tanks near Diamond Harbour show the traffic 
that existed. Stavorinus, in 1768, gives the name of the 
village of Dover to Diamond Harbour, ‘‘where the English 
have built some ware-houses and a factory much frequent- 
ed by ships : close to it is a canal called the shrimp 
canal”. There is no mention of the Diamond Harbour 
Road in Upjohn's map of 1794, though there existed the 
Budge-Budge High Road to Calcutta in 1757. Two miles 
40 uth of Kidderpur is Manik Chandra Bagan. Holwcll 
writes of it — “The family of the Rajah of Burdwan formed 
lands to the amount of four lakhs, contiguous to the 
bounds of Calcutta, and had a place at Byala : the fort of 
Budge-Budge, on the Ganges, was also their property'\ 

2. la the Manorial of Sir E, Impey, by his son, a different statement is 
given ; but parties on the spot can give a more*oorreot opinion. 



164 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


This Bogan was once the residence of Mafcickchand, 
Hindu, who was appointed Governor of Calcutta, when 
the English were expelled from it. During his recum- 
bency he was noted for his rapacity, for though 50,000 
of the Hindus returned to their dwellings in Calcutta after 
Siraj Daula left, yet no man of property would trust him- 
self under Manick Chand. Bengali like he did not present 
an example of much courage ; he ran away from Budge- 
Budge, when the English attacked it, a ball striking his 
turban having put him to flight, and he never stopped 
till he reached Murshidabad. Ali Verdy Khan, who 
appointed him to his office, found him so treacherous and 
cowardly, that he trusted the Patans chiefly on active 
service. The Musalman promoted the Bengalis the high 
office, but on the principle that they become excellent 
sponges which he could squeeze when he liked. On Ali 
Verdy's memorable retreat from Burdwan, 18,000 Bengali 
troops ran away. 

Kidderpur was called after Colonel Kyd, an enterprising 
European, the Chief Engineer on the Company’s Military 
establishment ; his two East Indian sons were the famous 
ship-builders,'^ and in 1818, launched from the dock there 
the Hastings, a seventy-four gun ship, which lately an- 
chored at Sagar. He, with Bowley, Skinner and others, 
has shown what genious could effect in spite of the depres- 
sing influence of European caste, and the feeling which 
in Calcuta formerly regarded East Indians as a kind of 
parialtfl.^ 

To the East of Kidderpur lie the Calcutta militia lines. 
The soldiers are all natives, certainly not on the original 

3. East Indians, alias Eurasians, alias country-borns, were igi class that 
excited great alarm in the last century, some writers conjecturing that 
they would, like Americans, combine with the natives and drive the 
£«QgUsh from Calcutta. Hence various projects were enteri^ained for 
neutralising their influence. There was only one ^eir class were fonder 
of the buka than of letters ; they loved the theatre, dressing magni- 
6cenily and ‘'affording by their sparkling eyes as marked contrast^ 
with the paleness and langour of the European ladies**. 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 165 


plan of the militia ; for in the earlier days every European 
was expected to be a militia man, the same as every 
passenger in an Indiaman was trained to take part in the 
defence of the ship. In 1759 the Europeans of Calcutta, 
which enabled the Company to send the soldiers into the 
field against the Dutch, who came up the Hugli with a 
strong force ; again, in 1763, all the regulars were sent 
away from Calcutta, the militia garrisoning it : however, 
a body of free merchants and free manners, not content 
with standing on the defensive, took the field and marched 
to Patna. In 1801 there was a European as well as a 
a Portuguese and Armenian militia. 

The road from Kidderpur to Bursea, in last century, 
presented a picturesque appearance, being planted with 
shady trees on both sides — a fine old practice. 

The Kidderpur Military Orphan School was established 
in 1783, by Major Kilpatrick, and was located at first at 
Haura, but about 1790, the present premises were taken. 
The front room of this building, the ball room, calls to 
mind the state of society in former days, when European 
ladies were afraid to face the climate of India — even 
Lord Teigumouth’s lady refused to go out to India with 
her husband : in consequence, Kidderpur was a harbour 
of refugee, where men in want of wives made their 
selection in an evening, at balls given expressly for that 
purpose, travelling often a distance of 500 miles down the 
country to attain that object. But tempora mutantur. 

Garden Reach is one of the oldest places of residence 
^^out of town,” and is mentioned in a map drawn up by 
General Martine in 1760, as containing fifteen residences : 
but these were only fine bungalows. Previous to the battle 
of Plassey, the English were cooped up in the neighbour- 
hood of the Old Fort, enjoying the evening air in the Res- 
pondentia walk, lying beyond Ghandpal Ghat, or in the 
iish-pond near Laldigi — beyond, there was too wholesome 
a dread of thieves and tigers, to induce them to wander 
4nto the grounds of the neighbouring zeminders, who 



166 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUEHOOD 


were the Robin Hoods of those days. But^ when peaccr 
and security dawned, it is to the taste of the Ditchers,, 
they preferred garden-houses, ornamented occasionally 
with statuary, which were their favourite abodes during 
the hot weather. Mrs. Fay writes in November — ^‘My 
time has passed very stupidly ( in Calcutta ) for some 
months, but the town is now beginning to fill — people are 
returning for the cold season’’ — doubtless, from their 
country villas. We find that Warren Hastings had a 
place of this description of Sukh Sagar ; and another 
Governor, Cartier, one in 1763 at Baraset. The retirement 
of the garden, and the boating parties on the river, ‘‘the 
oars beating time to the notes of the clarionet”, formed 
more the objects of relaxation then than now. “Kittysol- 
boys, in the act of suspending their kittesans, which were 
finely ornamented, over their heads — which boys were 
dressed in white muslin jackets, tied round the waist with 
green sashes, and gartered at the knees in like manner with 
the puckered, sleeves in England, with white turbans bound 
by the same coloured ribband — the rowers, resting on their 
oars in a similar uniform — made a most picturesque 
appearance”. 

Sir W. Jones lived in a bungalow in Garden Reach, 
nearly opposite to the Bishop’s College — we have not been 
able to ascertain the site : here shunning Calcutta and its 
general society •, he indulged in his oriental studies ; and 
in the morning, as the first streak of dawn appeared on the 
horizon, he walked up to his lodging in the Court House, 
where^e occupied the middle and upper rooms. He must 
have travelled via Kidderpur, as there was then no direct 
road from Garden Reach to Calcutta. 

At the bottom of Garden Reach is Akra, marked off in 
Marline’s map of 1760, with salt moulds : after that it 
was used as a powder depot, and subsequently as a race- 
course. A little south of Kidderpur biydge, near the old) 
Carden Reach, is Bhu Kailas^ founded by the late Joy 
Narayan Ghosal : two of the largest Kngaa in India arr 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOOALITIBS 


167 


to be seen in two Saivite temples here, which were erected 
in the last century. 

Alipur seems to be a Musalman name, and of the same 
signification as Aiinagur (the city of Ali), which Siraj 
Daula^ after the Moslem fashion of altering native names, 
gave to Calcutta, on its conquest in 1757. 

Nearly opposite Alipur bridge stood two trees, called 
*‘the trees of destruction’’, notorious for the duels fought 
under their shade : here Hastings and Francis exchanged 
shots, in the days when European women were few. Had 
Hastings fallen in that duel, the stability of British Power 
in India might have been shaken, with such a plseton as 
Francis guiding the chariot of the State. Jealousy often 
gave rise to these “affairs of honours”. 

Facing Alipur bridge is Belvidere. Once the favourite 
residence of Warren Hastings, but latterly he erected 
another house further south — he is said to have hunted 
tigers in its neighbourhood, and we think it probable, 
considering the state of other places at that time : as late 
as 1769, Stavorinus writes of the country in the vicinity 
of Chagda : — “Having many woods, in which there arc 
tigers, we soon met with their traces in plenty”. Lord 
Valentia states, that the Company gave in premiums for 
killing tigers and leopards, in Kashimbazar island, up to 
1801, Rs. 150,000. Mrs. Fay describes Belvidere in 1780 ; 
The house is a perfect bijon ; most superbly fitted 
up with all that unbounded affluence can display ; 
but still deficient in that simple elegance which the 
wealthy so seldom attain, from circumstance of not 
being obliged to search for effect without much cost, 
which those but moderately rich find to be indispen- 
sable. The grounds are said to be very tastefully 
laid out. 

Stavorinus mentions visiting Belvidere in 1768, where 
the then Governor of Bengal resided there ; it may have 
probably served as Barrackpore does now, as the country 
residence of the Governors for the time being. 



168 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


The General Hospital reared its head, as early as 1768, 
over the then solitary Ghauringi, *‘far froift the city;'’ 
previous to 1768, it was garden house of an individual, 
and was purchased by Government.^ 

To the nortth of Alipur flows Tolly^s Nala, called after 
Colonel Tolly, who also gave his name to Tollyganj ; he 
excavated a portion of it in 1775 — the old name given to 
it was the Govindapur-creek, being the southern boundary 
df Govindapur, which was formerly the chief residence of 
the natives, the sets^ who, along with the Baysaks, consti- 
tuted the oldest Hindu families of Calcutta ; they lived in 
the neighbourhood of the old pagoda and on the site of 
Fort William, the whole district being called Govindapur 
— a name derived from a deity called Govinda. Colonel 
Tolly made the nala at his own expense, in the bed of 
what was called Surman*s Nala. Government granted him 
the tolls on it, exclusively; for twelve years, and it soon 
yielded a net profit of Rs. 4,300 monthly. The Colonel 
died soon after its completion. This canal, in the course of 
thirty years, up to 1820, had silted up six feet — its native 
name is Burhi Gunga.^ On its banks is Kali Ghat Temple, 


4. Hamilton in 1709, mentions a pretty good hospital in Calcutta, 
which "many go into undergo the penance of physic, but few come out 
to give an account of its operation*’. In these days doctors were not 
well qualified or well paid. Ex uno omnes disce ; an anecdote is mentioned 
of one of the Governors of Bombay, who wishing to gain the favour ol 
his Honourable Masters in England, by retrenchment, found the Sur- 
geon*a pay to be forty-two rupees monthly, on which he said there 
must be some mistake, that the figures were transposed, and saying, with 
one strok e^ ^of his pen he wrote twenty-four instead of forty-two ! How- 
ever, in Cfidoutta, there was a difference. Thus in 1780 —“Physio, as well 
as law, is a gold mine to its professors, to work it at will The medical 
gentleman at Calcutta make their visits in palanquins, and receive a 
gold-mohur from each patient, for every common attendance— extras 
are enormous** . 

A disease called “a pucka fever*’ was prevalent in Calcutta last cen- 
tury, probably owing to the mass of jungle which extended in every 
direetion, and the fatid jils. Mrs. Kindersley writes of it as ''illness of 
which most persons die in Calcutta ; it frequently carries off persons in 
a few hours— 'the doctors esteem it the highest degretf%f putridity*’. 

5. Our readers may deem it incredible, but we have a firm convic- 
tion, that the Ganges itself, which now fiows by Bishop’s College, once 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


169 


built about sixty years ago by one of the Sabarna Chou- 
daris of Barsi Byala, 

We next proceed to Ghauringi. Mrs. Kindersley, in 
1768, describes the European houses ‘‘as built so irregular, 
that it looks as if the houses bad been thrown up in the 
air, and fallen down again by accident as they now stand”. 
The people of Calcutta, in fact, preferred, like the Madras 
people, garden-houses, were they could enjoy some 
privacy. The town was considered unhealthy and hot, 
and Ghauringi was chosen for a garden retreat, as people 
now select Kasipur and Titaghur, and as they will, ere 
long, on the opening of the rail-road, choose the neigh- 
bourhood of Bandel. How times change ! The Sunder- 
bunds were healthy and populous places, eighty years 
before Charnock founded Calcutta, were then the site of 
flourshing cities, but are now the abode of the rhinoceros 
and the tiger. 

Ghauringi (Chowringhi) is a place of quite modern erec- 
tion. Be not surprised, reader, it originated from “the rage 
for country houses”, with their shade and flowers, which 
prevailed equally at Bombay and Madras, at the beginning 
of this century — but how century houses ? Why, Ghauringi 
was then out of town, and even palki-bearers charged 
double fare for going to it ; while at night, servants 
returned from it in parties having left their good clothes 
behind through fear of dakaits^ which infested the 
outskirts of Ghauringi ! There is a lady still living, who 


took its course on the site of Tolly’s Nala, with the natives to the south 
of Calcutta, Tollygunj is a sacred place for cremation, and so ia Baripur, 
where there is now not a drop of water, because they believe the streanns 
of the Ganges rolled there once ; the traveller never seen any funeral 
pyres smoking near the Hugli, south of Calcutta, as the natives have a 
notion that this is a Khata Ganga, or a modem channel — the ancient 
ebannel, and not merely the water, is accounted sacred by them* Geo- 
logical observations confirm this. In the boring made at Kidderpur 
in 1822 , it was found, there were no vegetable remains or trees ^ hence tbero 
must have been a river or large body of water there. 



170 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


recollects when there was only two houses in ^hauringi — 
One Sir E. Impey’s, the very house now occupied as the 
nunnery, a third story only being added. On the site of 
the nunnery church was a tank, called the Gol talao •, the 
surrounding quarter was Sir E. Impey’s park, which stret- 
ched to Ghauringi-road on the west and to Park-street on 
the north, an avenue of trees leading through what is now 
Middleton street into Park street from his house j 
it was surrounded by a fine wall, a large tank was in front, 
and plenty of room for a deck park, a guard of sipahis was 
allowed to patrol about the house and grounds at night, 
occasionally firing off their muskets to keep off their daJcaits. 
The other house was the present St. PauPs school. Chau- 
ringi houses increased towards the close of the last century. 
Upjohn, in 1794, placed twenty-four houses in Ghauringi, 
between Dharmatala and Brijitalas, the Gircular Road and 
the plain. Lord Gornwallis in his day remarked that 
one-third of the Gompany’s territories was a jungle, in- 
habited only by wild beasts, and in Ghauringi the few 
houses were scattered over a great extent of ground. Let 
those who are warm friends of the centralising system of 
Calcutta, and who look on the Ghauringi places as ever 
enduring, reflect a little on the past — to conjecture what 
the future may be. Surat, three centuries ago, had a popu- 
lation of half a million, now its grass-grown streets and 
tomb-covered squares show the desolating hand of time. 
Sagar island, the abode of the tiger and the snake, con- 
tained two years previous to the foundation of Calcutta a 
populatfS^n of 200,000, which, in the one night, in 1688, 
was swept away by an inundation. 

Park’Street^ so called because it led to Sir E. Impey’s 
park, is mentiond in Upjohn’s map of Calcutta, 1794, by 
the name of Burial-ground road. Being out of town last 
century, it was the route for burial from town (i. c., the 
part north of Tank Square) to Circular-ro^ burial ground,, 
hence it was dreaded as a residence. ‘‘All funeral proces- 
sions are concealed as much as possible from the sight 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 111 


of the ladies, that the vivacity of their tempers may not 
be wounded*', — death and dancing did not harmonise to- 
gether. We find in the India Gazette of 1788 a notice from 
T. Mondesely, undertaker, advertising for work, ‘‘having 
regularly followed that profession in England”. He states, 
that on account of the great distance of the burial ground, 
he has built a hearse, and is fitting up a mourning coach ; 
— previous to that, what a gloomy scene in Park-street ; 
a funeral procession continuing one hour or more. The 
coffins, covered with a rich black velvet Pall, were carried 
on men’s shoulders, and the European Pall Bearers arfan- 
ged a little before they came to the ground. 

Chauringi^road is spoken of by Holwell in 1752, as “the 
road leading to Collegot (Kali Ghat) and Dee Calcutta”, — 
a market was held in it at that time. 

In a house in Wood Street^ occupied lately by the eye 
infirmary, Colonel Stewart lives, surnamed Hindu Stewart, 
from his conformity to idolatrous customs, &C.,— he was 
one of that class, now almost passed away, who looked 
with equal regard on the worship of Christ and Krishna. 

At the corner of Park Street is the Asiatic Society's HousCy^ 
built on a piece of ground granted by Government ; it had 
been previously occupied as a manege, and was favourably 
located for that purpose. The Society was founded Janu- 
ary 15, 1784 — the same year which gave Calcutta the first 
church erected by the public since battle of Plassey 
religion and literature thus went together. 

The Course^ so called, as being a cross or two miles in 
length, is described in 1768, as being “out of town in a 
sort of angle, made to take the air in, “though an old song 
states that those who frequented it, “swallowed ten mouth- 
fuls of dust for one of fresh air”. Hamilton makes no men- 
tion of it in 1709 : the recreation then was “in chaises or by 
palukins, in the fields or to gardens”. Boating and fishing 
seem to have been favourite amusements. Certainty those 
who took their evening sail in a pinnace enjoyed more exer- 
cise than the modern lollers in a carriage in the Course. 



172 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


Of the Jlace Course mention is made in 1780, though 
the present one was commenced in 1819. There was 
formerly an old Race Course at Akra, but ‘‘Lord 
Wellesley, during his administration, set his face decidedly 
against horse-racing and every other species of gambling:’* 
his influence threw a damp on it for many years, 
though last century a high value was attached to English 
jokeys, and the races were favourite subjects of expec- 
tation with the ladies. With the amusement of the turf 
came the spirit of betting. 

Dharmatala was formerly called the avenue, as it led 
from town to the Salt-Water Lake and the adjacent coun- 
try. Last century it was a “well raised causeway, raised 
by deepening the ditch on either side”, with wretched 
huts on the south side ; while on the north a creek ran 
through a street, still called Creek»Row, through Welling- 
ton Square Tank, down to Chandpal Ghat. Large boats 
could come up it — if it had been kept clear and had been 
widened, it might have been very useful for the drainage, 
as Colonel Forbes, in his memoranda to the Municipal 
Commissioners in 1835, recommended the digging a 
similar creek in that direction. The road was, according 
to an old useful Hindu practice, shaded with trees on 
both sides, as we find was the practice in other parts at 
that period. Dharmatala is so called from a great mosque, 
since pulled down, which was on the site of Cook's stables ; 
the ground belonged with all the neighbouring land, to 
Jafir, the jamadar of Warren Hastings, a zealous Musal- 
man. The Karbela, a famous Musalman assemblage of 
tens of thousands of people, which now meets in the Cir- 
cular road, used then to congregate there, and by its local 
sanctity, gave the name to the street of the Dharmatala or 
Holy Streets 

The ftajsar, about half way between Wellington Square 
and Government House, occupies that site. of the residence 
of Colonel De Glass, Superintendent of the gun manu- 
factory, which has since been removed to Kashipur* 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


173: 


David Brown, the eminent minister of the Mission Churqh, 
subsequently occupied the building, which had a large 
compound. He kept a Boarding School, and had among 
his pupils Sir R. Grant, late Governor of Bombay, and 
Lord Glenclg. 

Wellington Square Tank excavated in 1822, it was 
one of the good works of the Lottery Committee ; its site 
was formerly occupied by wretched huts inhabited by 
lascars, who made the place a mass of filth and dirt. The 
banks have several times formerly run through it. 

The Native Hospital owes its origin to the suggestion of 
tlie Rev. John Owen, a chaplain ; the plan was proposed 
in 1793, when the Marquis Cornwallis granted it Rs. 600 
per month ; the private subscriptions amounted to Rs. 
54,000. Lord Cornwallis gave Rs. 3,000, each Member of 
Council Rs. 4,500. The Nawab Vizier gave Rs. 3,000. 
It was established at first in the Chitpur Road, and opened 
September the 1st, 1794; but in 1798 the managers 
purchased ground in **the open and airy road of Dharma* 
tala’*. At that time there were three or four houses in the 
Street.® During the last century disease must have made 


6, Calcutta, in former days, had justly an ill name for its insalu- 
brity, “the grave-yard to Europeans” — but the Doctors also were in 
fault, as Dr. Goodeve, m his able paler '‘On the progress of European 
Medicine in the East” shows, when all agreed that was strength must 
be supported in dysentery, wine and soil animal food were the most 
appropriate diet’*. Patients were ordered in these cases, “pillaoe, 
curries, grilled, fowls and prepared chicken broth ad libitum, with a glass 
or two of medicine, or a little brandy and water, and a dessert of ripe 
fruit”. Native doctors had their hot and cold remedies for hot and 
cold diseases, their mantras and philtres, while Lind states that the 
Portuguese doctors prescribed as the grand cure, “the changing all the 
European blood in their patients* bodies into natives. This they endea- 
voured to accomplish by repeated veneseotions, till they conceived that 
tho whole mass of this oirouiating fluid had been abstracted. And then 
by a diet consisting exclusively of the productions of the country, they 
hoped to substitute a liquid entirely Indian, which would render their 
patients proof against maladies under which they had previously 
laboured’*, 



174 


OALODTTA AND ITS NBIQHBOUBHOOD 


fearful ravages among the natives. Small Pox was a dread- 
ful scourge ; “inoculation is much practised bf the natives; 
but they convert the contagious matter into powder, which 
they give internally, mixed with some liquid. Adjoining 
the Dharmatala is the Free School on the site of a house 
which was occupied by Mr. Justice Le Maitre, one of the 
judges in Impey’s time. The Free School was engrafted 
on the Old Charity School, founded in 1742, and settled 
“at the garden house near the Jaun Bazar, 1795”. The 
purchase and repair of the premises cost Rs. 56,800. On 
the proposal for forming the Free School, the public at 
once subscribed Rs. 26,082 and Earl Cornwallis gave Rs. 
2,000. It is the oldest educational institution in Calcutta, 
it is said that its funds arose chiefly from the interest of 
the restitution money granted by the Musalmans for 
pulling down the Old Church near the Writers’ Buildings 
in 1766. 

CoBsitola^ leading from Dharmatala into Old Calcutta, 
was named after the Kasai or butchers, dealers in goats’ 
and cows’ flesh, who formerly occupied it as their quarter. 
It must therefore have been formerly a hateful street for 
Hindus to pass on their way from Chitpur to Kali Ghat, 
as seventy years ago Hindus would not sell an ox when 
rthey knew it was designed for slaughter. Like Govern- 
ment House, it was then “in the suburbs of Calcutta ; this 
TOay account for the late G. Grant, father of Lord Glcnelg, 
having taken up his residence in Grant’s Lane, which 
^received its name from his circumstance. He afterwards 
built a l^ndsome house, opposite to Lord Clive’s, where he 
•resided several years before he left India. In 1757 Cossi- 
tala was a mass of jangal, and even as late as 1780, it was 
almost impassable for mud in the rains. In Upjohn’s 
map only two or three houses are marked in it, so that 
Mr. Grant might enjoy his rua in urht in the neighbour- 
hood of his favourite Lai Oirja. In 1788 a Mr. Mackinnon 
advertises for a school to be opened to contain 140 pupils. 

Lai Bazar is mentioned by Holwell, in 1738, as a famous 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


175 


bazar. Mrs. Kindersiey, in 1768, states it to be the beat 
street in Calcutta, '^full of little shabby looking shops 
called Boutiques kept by black people’’, it then stretched 
from the custom house to Baitakhana. Bolst mentions a 
case of Governor-General about 1770, who, finding that 
Europeans there related ‘^paria arrack to the great debau- 
chery of the soldiers”, sent a guard of sipahis and gave 
•them lodgings for several day in the dungeon of the new 
fort. Sir W. Jones, in 1788, refers to the nuisance there 
of low taverns, kept by Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese. 
In the house west of the Police Office, were formerly 
placed hamam or warm-baths. It is singular that in the 
metropolis of an Oriental country, no encouragement has 
been given to these speculations, while every Overland 
traveller can testify to the beneficial effects of the Cairo 
hot-baths, and even the mechanics of London now avail 
themselves of tapid baths. Facing this, on the opposite 
side of the street, stood an old play-house. The PoUct Office 
formed the residence of John Palmer, one of the ‘^merchant 
princes” of Calcutta. His father was secretary to Warren 
Hastings ; when a youth he was a prisoner of war in 
France, where he was treated most kindly by La Fittc, 
the famous banker, who instructed him in commercial 
subjects. He came in 1789 to Calcutta, where he establi- 
shed himself in business, which he conducted on a most 
extensive scale ; he had for his first partner Henry St. 
George Tucker, who was afterwards in the Civil Service, 
and subsequently Chairman of the Court of Directors. 
Palmer was called the prince of British merchants, and 
was equally renowned for his princely generosity. He died 
in 1836. On the opposite side of the street, stood the Old 
Jail of Calcutta which also served as the Tyburn of 
Calcutta, all the executions also on that spot. There is a 
man still living in Calcutta who underwent the punish- 
ment of the pillory there. The Calcutta papers of 1800 
give us an account of one Brajamohun Dutt, a watch- 
maker, having been hanged there for stealing a watchr 



176 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


privately from a dwelling-house. The same period this wit- 
nessed five Europeans hanged there together. At the 
siege of Calcutta, in 1757, it served like another Hongo- 
mont, as point of defence. 

Calcutta in early days, in 1780, had French and 
English confectioners. Opposite the Old Jail in Lai Bazar, 
was the famous Harmonicon Tavern, now the sailor’s Home ; 
it was the handsomest house then in Calcutta and proved 
a great comfort to the poor people in Jail, to whom supplies 
of iood were frequently sent from thence. It was founded 
in the days when strangers considered that ‘‘every house 
was a paradise and every hot an angel”, where youngmen 
stayed as long as they liked ; but this system began to give 
way to that of hotels about 1823. Mrs. Fay writes of it 
in 1780 ; 

I felt far more gratified some times ago, when 
Mrs. Jackson procured me a ticket for the Harmonic, 
which was supported by a select number of gentle- 
men, who each in alphabetical rotation gave a con- 
cert, ball, and supper, during the cold season ; I 
believe once a fortnight. 

We had a great of delightful music, and Lady C — , 
who is a Capital performer on the harpsichord, play- 
ed, amongst other pieces, a Sonata of Nicolai's in a 
most brilliant style. 

Mr. Hastings attended bis party. The Harmonicon 
Society, previous to 1780; had a house in Lai Bazar, so 
that punch houses were, probably, its successors. Hawks- 
worth n^ntions — ^^1 was also shown, en passant, a tavern 
called the London Hotel, where entertainments are fur- 
nished at the moderate price of a gold-mohur a head, 
exclusive of the dessert and wines. “At the coffee-houses 
your single dish of coffee costs you a rupee (half-a-crown) ; 
which half-crown, however, franks you to the perusal of 
the English newspapers, which arc regularly arranged on 
a file, as in London ; together with the CalcuMa advertiser, the 
OalcuUa Chronicle, &c. &c.— and, for the honour of Calcutta, 



OALOUTTA IK THS OLDJBN TIMM — ITS l^OCALimS 


177 


be it recorded, that the two last named publication one, 
what the English prints formerly were, moral, amusing, 
and intelligent”. The chief-strangers that came to Cal- 
cutta were the complains of the Indiamen, great persona- 
ges in their day, the lords of those splendid ships, the Old 
Indiamen, and whose position was often a stepping stone 
to a scat in the direction. In fact one of the charters 
provided that six members of the Court of Directors should 
always have been commanders of their ships, but the 
Company rented accomodation for those magnates by 
hiring houses during their stay at Rs. 500 per month. 

A litttlc to the north of this, in the Chitpur road, is the 
Tireiia Bazar^ so called from a Frenchman named Tiretta, 
who established it about 1788 ; he was Superintendent 
of Streets and Buildings. It yielded a monthly rent of 
Ri. 3,800. It was valued then at two lakhs, and Tiretta 
having become bankrupt, his creditors offered it at that 
sum as a prize in a lottery. 

Opposite the Tiretta Bazar stood the house of C. 
Weston (after whom Weston's Lane was named) ; when he 
lived there in 1740, the house was in the midst of a large 
garden, which could have borne witness to many benevo- 
lent deeds. C. Weston here gave away Rs. 1,600 monthly 
to the poor with his own hand, and at his death he left 
one lakh of rupees as a legacy. 

The road from Lai Bazar to the Old Church, called 
Mission Row, was formerly named the Rope Walk, and 
was the scene of hard fighting at the time of the siege of 
Calcutta, in 1757. The Old or Mueion Church was so called, 
because it is the oldest church in Calcutta, having been 
built in 1768, eleven years after the demolition of first 
church by the Musalmans. Kicrnandcr, the first Protes- 
tant Missionary to Bengal, erected it at a cost to himself of 
half a lakh. He not only did this, but ^ gave the proceeds 
of the sale of his deceased wife’s jewels to the building ; 
in 1774, a large school-room was added to the present 
Church, During his life-time Kiernander gave away of 

—12 



178 


GALOUTTA. AND ITS NBIQHBOUEHOOD 


his own property in charity at least £ 12,000 Sterling* 
This school and the church were built in a way then un- 
usual in Calcutta, without any Sunday work ! Kiernander 
died in 1799, in his eighty-seventh year, forty-eight of 
which he spent in India ^ with him died all very active 
efforts for the benefit of the Portuguese. The subsequent 
exertions were merely desultory. 

David Brown, the first Chaplain of this Church, was 
the man for the middle classes. His congregation was 
chiefly composed of ‘^Europeans, East Indians and Portu- 
guese**, — the only recompense he would consent to receive 
from Christian Knowledge Society, was ^*some valuable 
packages of books**. The Church is still known among 
the natives by the name of the Lai Girja, from the red- 
painted bricks of which it was made ; but Lai Bazar was 
a name in existence long before this church — perhaps it 
may have been called lal from its vicinity to the Lai 
Bazar ? The premises now occupied by the senior chap- 
lain were once the abode of Obeck, a wcll-rcmembcrcd 
name. The residence of the junior chaplain is adjacent 
to the site of the first mission school began in Calcutta by 
Kiernander, in 1759. It contained 135 boys, American, 
Bengali, English and Portuguese were taught in it. 
Kiernander entertained sanguine hopes of the con- 
version of the brahmans in the school ; but his prospects 
were doomed, as many subsequently has experienced 
in similar cases, to vanish into air. The minister of 
the Mission Church paid more attention to the spiritual 
condign of that much neglected class, the Portuguese, 
than any other persons in Calcutta, and some of the 
best members of the church were Portuguese : even 
as late as 1789, the Rev. T. Clarke, who came out as a 
Missionary, but who afterwards renounced his profession 
and became a chaplain ^^under the orders of the Com- 
raander-in-ebief**, began to study Portuguese, as ‘‘a funda- 
mental principle of the Mission was to have the native 
population everywhere addressed in their own language'’^ 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOOAXITIES 


179 


This church is inseparably connected with the name of 
•dharles Grant, who paid Rs. 10,000 to have it redeemed 
from the Sheriff’s gripe. He contributed liberally to the 
missionary objects of it, and afterwards, as Chairman of 
the Court of Directors, selected the chaplains to be there"^. 
In the last century, the Old Church was in a state of 
feud with the New (St.John’s) Church, the chaplains of 
the former were evangelicals, of the latter, high church ; 
the middle class and the East Indians attended the former, 
the fashionables and ^‘big wings”, the latter, — so far did 
the spirit of odium theologicum reach, that the chaplain 
of the New Church requested the Government in close 
the Old Church ! 

Tank Square^ last century, *4n the middle of the city”, 
covers upwards of twenty-five acres of ground. Stavorinus 
states : It was dug by order of Government, to provide 
the inhabitants of Calcutta with water, which is very 
sweet and pleasant. The number of springs which it 
contain makes the water in it nearly always on the same 
level. It is railed round, no one may wash in it”, when this 
tank was dug, we never been able to ascertain. Hamilton 
wrote in 1702, that the Governor had a handsome 
house in the Fort, *Hhe Company has also a pretty good 
garden, that furnishes the Governors with herbage and 
fruits at table, and some fish ponds to serve his kitchen 
with good carps, callops and mullet”. Perhaps the tank 
was dug to serve as the fish-ponds, and the garden may 
have formed the Park, Lai Bag or in modern times, Tank 
Square. The tank was formerly more extensive, but was 
cleansed and embanked completely in Warren Hastings’ 
time. Its first name was *‘the Green before the Fort”. 
No doubt, it was the place of recreation and shooting 
wild game for the Company's factors, and in the middle 
of last century it was the scene of many a moonlight ^ gam- 
bol of young people, and elderly ones, who, rigged out in 

7, For full d.tail* r*gwding Kiemander, sea an article in Calcutta 
Rtttne, No. XIII,— “The First Protestant Missionary to Bengal’'. 



180 


OALOUTTA AHD ITS NBIOHBOUBHOOD 


Stockings of different colours^ yellow coat, grera waistcoat,. 
&c. &c,, amused themselves on the banks of the ‘^fish- 
pond in the park”, inhaling the evening breezes, and think- 
ing of the friends of whom they had heard nine months 
before ! 

Old Court House Sirstt, parallel with Mission Row, is so 
called from the Old Court House, or Town Hall, which 
stood at the northern extremity of the street, on the site 
of St. Andrew’s Church. The charity boys were lodged 
and fed here previous to the battle of Plassey — this was 
the first charity school, — feeding and educating twenty 
children for Rs. 2,400 annually. It was erected about 
1727, by Mr. Bourchier, a merchant, who was afterwards 
appointed Governor of Bombay. In 1734 he gave it to 
Government, on condition of their paying Rs. 4,000 
annually to support a charity school, this money goes to 
the Free School, and is still paid by Government. In 
1765, it was considerably enlarged by private subscription, 
in consideration of the Government agreed to give Rs. 800 
monthly to the school. Omichand, a native merchant, 
gave Rs. 20,000 towards this subscription. Lectures were 
occasionally given in it ; we find that Dr. Bell in 1788 
read a course of twelve lectures on experimental photo- 
graphy there. Stavorinus writes of it, in 1770 : *^Ovcr 
the Court House arc two handsome assembly rooms. 
In one of these are hung up the portraits of the King 
of France, and of the late queen, as large as life, which 
werej^ought by the English from Chandernagore, when 
they took that place”, v These assembly rooms were used^ 
as the Town Hall is now, for holding balls, meetings, 
&c. We have an account of a grand ball given here in 
1769, in honour of the Dutch Governor, by the English 
Governor Cartier, “the ladies were decorated with an 
immense quantity of jewels”. 

Sir W. Jones occupied rooms in the present Court 
HousCi where he had to attend to Police cases twice a 
week, to issue warrants to pick up the drunken sailors, 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS LOCALITIES 181 


all the Judges in those days took it by turns to do. In the 
Court only four attorneys were allowed to practise ; an 
appeal was permitted to the Governor and Council. 
Another Court, founded in 1753, called the Court of 
Requests, existed, composed of twenty-four Commissioners, 
selected originally by the Government from among the 
principal inhabitants of Calcutta, but who subsequently, 
elected their own members. They sat every Thursday, 
to determine matters for forty shilling value — three for- 
ming a quorum. Daniel gives a drawing of this Court 
House — with elephants walking in Tank-Square, — for in 
the last century elephants were freely permitted to per- 
jnable the town. As early as 1727, a corporation consisting 
of a Mayor and nine Aldermen, and a Mayor’s Court, was 
established of which the famous Zaphania Holwcll was 
once President ; but it was considered too much under 
the influence of Government, cases having occured 
where trials were suspended at the dictum of the Gover- 
nor, who by his patronage, greatly influenced the 
members. Owing to this and the want of an enlarged 
jurisdiction to control the gigantic abuses which had grown 
up among the servants of Government, the Supreme 
Court was constituted in its stead in October, 1774. The 
Mayor’s Court had jurisdiction in Civil Cases between 
Europeans. The judges were the Aldermen, mercantile 
men, who had a liberal allowance of twenty-two rupees 
monthly for their services ! Holwell sat in this Court, 
and states, he heard natives confess to the most atrocious 
crimes, pleading they should be acquitted, since it was 
the Kali Yug and therefore it was in the nature of things 
to commit sin. Asiaiicua states, that the abolition of the 
.Mayor’s Court, in 1774j was not a very popular measure : 

The attorneys, who have followed the judges in 
search of prey, as the carrion crows do an Indian 
army on its march, arc extremely successful in sup- 
porting the spirit of litigation among the natives, 
who, like children, delighted with a new plaything. 



182 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


are highly pleased with the opportunity ^of harassing 
one another by vexations suits ; and those pests 
of society, called bailiffs, a set of miscreants hitherto 
little known in India, are now to be seen in every 
street, watching for the unhappy victims devoted to 
legal prosecution. Even the menial servants arc now 
tortured to breathe that insolent spirit of English 
licentiousness, which teaches the slave to insult his 
master, and then bring his action of damages at 
Westminster, if deservedly chastised for his impu* 
dence. Arbitrary fines are daily imposed on gentle- 
men who presume to correct their slaves •, and the 
house of the Chief Justice of Bengal resembles the 
office of a trading magistrate in Westminster, who 
decides the squabbles of oyster women, and picks 
up a livelihood by the rate of shilling warrants. 

As an illustration of the state of justice in the Mayor’s 
Court, we give an anecdote with which the name of 
Tagore is mixed up. The Party referred to was a relative 
of the late Dwarakanath Tagoor : 

A gentleman of the Council of Calcutta became 
indebted to one Mr. Wilson, a sail-maker, for work 
done in the way of his profession, amounting to Co.’s 
Rs. 75-9-7 ; for payment of which the sail-maker sent 
in his bill, with a receipt annexed. The Councillor, 
who happened at the same time to be zeminder, 
alleged the charges in the bill were exorbitant and 
unreasonable, and would neither discharge nor give 
up the bill ; threatening the sail-maker, that he 
would get him turned out of the Company’s sevice, 
or sent toBencoolen, if he persisted on his demand. 
The sail-maker, not intimidated, filed his bill in the 
Mayor’s Court against the Councillor, who, rather 
than expose the affair to a public discussion, more 
prudently agreed to pay the bill a^d the expenses 
of suit, by which it was, consequently, swelled. Thr 
coniplaints solicitor or attorney at law (as they are 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME— ITS LOCALITIES 


183 


called in Bengal) sent his banyan, Radhoo Tagoor, a 
black merchant of Calcutta, to receive the amount of 
the bill. This was repeated several times without 
success ; till at last the said Radhoo Tagoor desired 
the wanted, and if it was not paid, some bad conse- 
quences might ensue from the case going on in the 
regular course of law, and the charges being told to 
the councillor and zeminder, he grew angry and 
ordered the merchant, Radhoo Tagoor, to be imme- 
diately seized by his peons, and carried to the cutch- 
ery, where he was without any examination, inquiry, 
or from whatever, tied up, severely flogged, and beat 
on the head with his own slippers, by order of the 
said zeminder, who wrote a letter to the attorney 
at law upon the occasion, of which the following is 
an exact copy .* 

Sir, — I have ordered your demand to be com- 
plied with. It is so extravagant, that I intend laying 
it before the Court. Your banyan was so insolent 
as to tell me that, unless I discharge it directly, you 
would increase your demand, for which insolence in 
him I have sent him to the cutchery, where he will 
meet his deserts. 

Your most humble servant 

Calcutta, the 22nd February^ 1765. 

Near the Old Court House, in the north-west corner of 
Lyon's Range, stood the theatre^ in the seige of 1757, was 
turned into a battery by the Moors, and annoyed the fort 
very much. The theatre was generally served by amateur 
performers, and was frequented by the authorities ; a ball 
room was attached ; respecting the dancing there, Asia- 
ticus gives us a lively description ; 

For my own part, I already being to think dazz- 
ling brightness of copper-coloured face infinitely 
preferable to the pallid and sickly hue, which bani- 
shed roses from the cheeks of the European fair, and 



284 


OALGT7TTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


reminds me of the death-struck countenance of 
Lazarus risen from the grave. The English ladies 
arc immoderately fond of dancing, an exercise ill 
calculated for the burning climate of Bengal ; and 
in my opinion, however admissible in cooler lati- 
tudes, not a little indelicate in a country where the 
inhabitants arc covered with no more clothes than 
what decency absolutely requires. Imagine to your- 
self the lovely object of your affections ready to 
expire with heat, every limb trembling, and feature 
disorted with fatigue, and her partner with a muslin 
handkerchief in each hand employed in the delight- 
ful office of wiping down her face, while the big 
drops stand impcarlcd upon her forehead. 

Fort William College or Writers* Buildings was appropria- 
ted for the residence of writers, or Young Civilians. 
Originally Civilians, during their first years in India, were 
employed in copying. Sir C. Metcalfe ‘^wrotc section’' 
himself, a work now done by Keranis at the rate of 1,400 
words for a rupee — they at first lived in the foot, but, 
subsequently, in the present buildings, which were 
rented by Government from the Harwell family. Mr. G. 
Barwcll himself retired to England on a fortune of eighty 
lakhs, he was member of Council in 1780, these eighty 
lakhs melted away in manner no one could account for. 
Old Barwell was Governor of Calcutta in 1750, and for a 
century the family has commanded the first appointments 
in the Civil Service. The location of it in Calcutta was 
most iiffevourablc for the young man, — could the past 
unfold its talc, what a picture would be presented to 
young men fresh from school, lavishing large sums on 
horse-racing, dinner parties, who contracting large loans 
with Banias who clung to them for life-like leeches, 
and quartered their relations on them throughout their 
Indian career. Mention is made of the Writers* Build- 
ings in 1780, as being “a monument of commercial 
prosperity*', — could the walls tell of the past, how many 



OALOUTTA IN THK OLDBN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


135 


iceues would be unfolded— lamp shades used as cham- 
paigne glasses, &c. &c. In the houses now occupied 
by the Exchange and the Hurkaru office. Fort William 
Oollege was first located on its establishment in 1800, by 
the Marquis of Wellesley. Dr. Buchanon, the Vice- 
Provost, but it was then a part of the Old College of Fort 
William, and was connected with the other portion of the 
building, now the Hurkaru office, by a gallery that ran- 
across the street. This building reminds us of a few points 
about the former status of civilians. Orders come from 
the Court in 1675, that civilians should serve five years 
as apprentices, receiving, however, ten pounds per annum 
lor the last two years, and then to rise to the respective 
grades of writer, worker, merchant, and senior merchant ; 
they were also directed to learn the military exercise, 
so that, if found better qualified for the military than 
the civilian, they might receive a commission and have 
military pay. Their honourable masters had strange 
ideas of a civilian’s duties, for, in 1686, ten ships of 
was being sent to Bengal, and in Chittagong forty ships, 
without captains, as the Members of Council were 
designed to act as such ! Job Charnock, a civilian, was 
appointed Admiral and Commander-in-chief. But as early 
as 1600, the East India Company requested in their peti- 
tion for a charter, ‘‘that no gentleman might be employed 
in their charge !’’ 

To the west of Writers’ Buildings, thirty yards east of 
the fort, stood the first church of Calcutta, called St.John’s, 
at the suggestion of the Free Masons, who were liberal 
contributors to it.® It was built in 1716, days when “gold 
was plenty and labour cheap” by the piety of sea-faring 

8. We have aoeounts of a Free Mason's Lodge in Calcutta in 1744 ; 
in 1789, they gave at tlie Old Court House a ball and supper to the 
members of the Company's service in Calcutta ; and they seem to have 
a local habitation and a name there from the days of Charnock— their 
dnatitution tended to mitigate the exclusiveness of European Caste in 
former times. 



186 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


men. The Christian Knowledge Society took an active 
part in its establishment, and the Gospel Propagation 
Society sent a handsome silver cup in commemoration of 
its opening. As they were sometimes without a chaplain, 
owing to death, the service was performed by merchants, 
who were allowed Rs. 600 annually, for reading the 
prayers and a sermon on Sunday, — the oldest chaplain 
we have notice of, is Samuel Burton, in 1709. The 
steeple of this Church, ‘‘the chief public ornament of the 
settlement’*, fill or sunk down in the earthquake of 1737, 
and the church itself, which commanded the fort, was 
demolished by the Moors in 1756. Calcutta then remain- 
ed without a church, until the Missionary Kiernander 
erected one at his own expense in 1768, service in the in- 
terval being performed in a temporary room fitted upon a 
ground floor in the old fort, though little at Fort William. 
Even in church no great decorum was observed. 

Where all ladies arc approached, by sanction of 
ancient custom, by all gentlemen indiscriminately, 
known or unknown, with offers ot their hand to 
conduct them to their seat ; accordingly, those 
gentlemen who wish to change their condition, 

( which arc chiefly old fellows, for the young ones, 
cither choose country-born ladies for wealth, or, 
having left their hearts behind them, enrich them- 
selves, in order to be united to their fairs — write 
dulcineas in their native land ) on hearing of a 
ship’s arrival, make a point of repairing to this holy 
homt^sigind eagerly tender their services to the fair ^ 
strangers : who, if this stolen view happened so 
captivate, often, without undergoing the ceremony 
of a formal introduction, receive matrimonial over- 
tures, and becoming brides in the utmost possible 
splendour, have their rank instantaneously estab- 
lished, and arc visited and paid every honour to 
which the consequence of their husb^ds untilted^ 
them. 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDBN TIMB— ITS LOCALITIES 187 

In Hufthy House mention is made of the foundation of 
a new Church laid about 1780, in the new fort. Could 
any of our readers throw light on this subject ? 

In the north-west corner of Tank Square, stood the 
Black Hole, its site was commemorated by an obelisk, fifty 
feet high, inscribed with the names of thirty victims who 
perished in the Black Hole, on the 20ih of June, 1757. 
It was erected at the expense of Mr. Holwell and the 
survivors, “the bodies of the ‘victims were thrown into 
the ditch of the fort.’® This moment, though by the order 
of the Marquis of Hastings, on the ground, that it served 
to remind the natives of our former humiliation.^® As 
the remark often been made, that Indian patronage has 
a family one, and that the same names occur year after 
year, we append here the names of those as inscribed on 
the monument, which was erected to them, who perished 
one century ago in the Black Hole j but few persons are 
in the Company’s service now, of the same name, which 
seems to indicate that patronage has taken another 
channel : — 

Edwd. Eyrc; and Wm. Baillie, Esqrs ; The Revd. 
Jervas Bellamy; Messrs. Jenks, Reevely, Law, Coats, 
Nalicourt, Jebb, Terrians, E. Page; S. Page, Grab, 
Street, Harod, P. Johnstone, Ballard, N. Drake, 
Carse, Knapton, Gosling, Dod, and Dalrymple ; Cap- 
tains Clayton, Buchanon, and Witherington ; Lients. 
Bishop, Hays, Blagg, Simpson, and J. Ballamy ; 
Ensigns Paccard, Scott, Hastings, C. Wedderburn, 


9. 160 were crowded into e room 18 feet by 14 , 22 of theee came 
out and drew a full account of the Black Hole. See Holweire Tracts or 
Broome^s History of the Bengal Army, a work of sterling value. 

10. Suraj-ud-Daula has, wo think, been too severely blamed for the 
catastrophe of the Black Hole, the incarceration was the work of hit 
underlings ; hie orders, there simply to keep the prisoners secure, and 
when they complained no man ventured to break the step of an Hasten}.- 
despot. After all, Calcutta suffered for less injury from its capture by 
the Moots, than Madras did in 1746, when taken by Lally, and the 
French, who totally demolished all the public buildings. 



2188 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIOHBOURHOOD 


and Dumbclton ; sea Captains Hunt^ Osburn, and 
Purncl ; Messrs. Carey, Leech, Stevenson, Guy, 
Porter, Parker, Caulker, and Bendol, and Atkinson, 
who, with sundry other inhabitants, military and 
militia, to the number of 123 persons; were by the 
tyrannic violence of Suraj-ud-Daula, Suba of Bengal, 
suffocated in the Black Hole prison of Fort William, 
in the night of the 20th day of June, 1756, and 
promiscuously thrown the succeeding morning into 
the ditch of the Ravalin of this place. This monu- 
ment is created by their surviving fellow-sufferer, 
J. Z. Holwell. 

The Old Fori was called IPort William^ because built 
.A.D. 1692, in the reign of William the Third, the year 
in which the French at Ghandcrnagorc, and the Dutch 
at Chinsurah, built theirs. Two years previously the 
‘Governor and Members of Council at Bombay were made 
to walk through the streets of that city with irons round 
their necks. The Burdwan insurrection of 1696 originated 
it. The walls were very strong, being made of brick, 
with a mortar composed of brick-dust, lime, molasses, and 
hemp, a cement as strong as stone in 1819, when the fort 
was pulled down to make way for the Custom House, the 
pick-axe or crow-bar was of no avail, gun-powder was 
obliged to be resorted to, so strong were the buildings. 
In early days it was garrisoned by 200 soldiers, chiefly 
employed in escorting merchandise, or in attending on 
Rajahs, who, like the chieftains in the castiled erage of 
the RhindT'icvied tolls on all boats ferrying up or down 
river ! The Old Fort extended from the middle of Clive 
Street to the northern edge of the tank. About 1770 it 
was used as a church and a jail, and as the depot for the 
Company’s medicines. There is a sketch of it in and old 
Number of the Universal Magazine^ Doubtless the foot 
itself is correctly delineated, although the ai^ist must have 
drawn upon his imaginations for the hills in the back- 
grounds 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIMB — ITS LOOALITIBB 18^ 


The Old Fort served like the feudal castles, to form the 
nucleus of the town (as in England all these towns, whose 
names in caster, were originally Roman Camps) the 
natives meeting with protection, and enjoying privilege 
in trade, soon settled down in Suttenutty and Govindpur. 

St. John* s Church alias the Old Cathedral, was opened 
on Easter Sunday, 1787. Previous to Bishop Middleton’s 
arrival, it was called the New Church, to distinguish it 
from the Old Church, which is the oldest Anglo-cpiscopat 
church in Calcutta. With this building may be dated the 
commencement of the era of church building. Calcutta 
was rising to its title of a City of Palaces ; the Supreme 
Council had called for plans of a church, and Warren 
Hastings felt, that the metropolis ought to have a suitable 
place for religious worship. As in 1774 Calcutta had ‘‘a 
noble play-house — but no church”, service was held in a 
room next to the Black Hole. A Church Building Com- 
mittee was organised in 1783 ; its first Committee Meeting 
was attended by its zealous patron, Warren Hastings, and 
his Council ; they found Rs. 35,950 had been subscribed, 
Rs. 25,592 additional were given by a resource then 
popular in Calcutta — by lotttery. A Hindu Nabakissen, 
presented in addition to assigning over burying ground, 
a piece of ground, valued at 30,000 rupees ; the Company 
gave 3 per cent, from their revenues ; the rest was raised 
by voluntary contributions. We have never had in India 
such an inauguration of a Church. On the day when 
the foundation stone was laid, the acting Governor gave a 
public breakfast, and then, along with the chief Govern- 
ment servants, went in a procession to the scene of the 
ceremonial.^‘ Charles Grant deployed Gaur of some of 

11. This Church called out the voluntary principle very rapidly— 
Mr. 4avi0 undertook the ornamentinf the Church ; a barrister Mr. Hall, 
drew up the contracts gratuitously. Wilkins, the orientalist, superin- 
tended the moulding of the stones prepared at Benares,— the Bast- 
India Company gave Rs. 12,000 for providing communion plate, 
velvet, bells ; and besides Rs. 14,304 subsequently from the Ooverninent^ 



190 


OALCUTTA AND ITS NEIQHBOUBHOOD 


its finest and freestone, ihc new church took t^irce years 
in building, and Earl Cornwallis opened it on the 24th 
of June, 1787, thus wiping away the reproach. The 
Mussalmans, during the short period they held Calcutta, 
in 1757, showed a diflferent zeal, for they erected a mosque 
within the Old Fort, having pulled down other buildings 
to make room for it. Previous to 1787, divine service 
was performed in a small room of the Old Fort, “a great 
disgrace to the settlement ; the site was occupied by the 
old burial ground which had exited there for a century 
previously ; when the bones were rooted out of the graves 
to make a site for this Church, it created a strong indigna- 
tion among the Musalmans, who would not do it to their 
bitterest enemy”. The bones were, we believe, removed 
of the new burial ground ; the ‘‘house of prayer was not 
the house of sepulture”, and toe tombs of the following 
persons were preserved — Hamilton, Charnock and Watson. 
The oldest burial recorded is that of Captain Barton, 
1693. Charnock’s widow was interred in the tomb built 
by himself, before which he used to sacrifice a cock on the 
anniversary of her death. 

This burial ground was once “in the environs of 
Calcutta, as the new burial ground is now without the 
boundaries of the town*’. In 1802 the old lottery tombs 
were removed. Most of the old tablets were cut from 
stone procured at St. Thome, near Madras. 

The vestry meeting of St. Thom’s was long looked 
upon as a scene, where the laity gave their opinion and 
votes on"*^hurch matters. The Governor-General Earl 
Cornwallis, attended the first vestry meeting, in 1786. 
This vestry has charitable funds at its disposal, arising 
from legacies left by General Martine, Baretto and 
Weston, yielding an interest of Rs. 15,000 annually. 

of Bengal, Earl Cornwallis gave 3.000. Zoffani painted the altar 
piece for it gratis. All the Apostles were taken from life, and represen- 
ted persons then living in Caloutta. Old TuUoh, the Auotioner, who 
came out in 17S4, sat j o Judas without knowing it. 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 191 


We seldom see in the compound the train of carriages, 
palki-gharis and palanquins, without thinking on the 
revolution that has taken place in manners. When the 
foundation stone was laid in 1784, the Governor and the 
principal inhabitants of Calcutta walked from the Old 
Court House to take part in the solemnity ; at the conse- 
cration they contributed Rs. 3,943 to a chariablc object, 
that a Free School ; and previous to this period, the 
Governor and heads of Government, used to walk in 
solemn procession every Sunday to the first Church, 
erected at the west end of the Writers* Buildings, which 
was demolished in 1756. While we are adopting the 
absurd custom of dressing in black in hot weather, 
we have almost renounced the good old English habit of 
working. Certainly, the exercise of lolling in a carriage, 
benefits the doctor and the coachmakcr, but whom else ? 
And yet people complain of the climate ! We know the 
case of ladies in Chauringi who, through, indolence, are 
Harried up-stairs j no doubt they loudly exclaim what a 
dreadful place is India, where they must sit still so long ! 

West of St. John’s in the premises now occupied by the 
Stamp and Stationery Committee, was formerly the Old 
Mint^ where the Company coined its rupees from 1791 to 
1832. In the latter year the New Mint was established^ 
previous to 1791, the coinage was executed by contract ; 
the copper coin, chiefly by Mr. Prinsep, the father of the 
late James Prinsep, who conducted an establishment for 
that purpose at Fulta. The coining their own names 
(though with the Moguls head and a Persian inscription) 
was an object of early ambition with the English and 
other European powers ; hence even the Dutch had a 
mint of their own, at Murshidabad, in 1757. On the site 
this Old Mint stood, in 1790, the flourishing ship-building 
establishment of Gillets. As late as 1770, no copper coin 
was to be seen in Bengal, no pice were in use, change 
under a rupee had to be given in cowries. This is strange* 
As early as 1680, a Mr. Smith was sent out from England 



192 


CALCUTTA AND ITS KBieHBOUBHOOD 


as an assay master, on a salary of sixty pounds per annum^ 
but it was the time when the Commandant of Bombay 
had six shillings daily as his pay : in 1762 the first money 
was coined in Calcutta. 

The site of the Old Government Houses in 1780, was 
covered with squalid native huts *‘out of town” ; but in 
Upjohn's map, the Government House anfd Council 
House occupy the spot covered by the present Govern- 
ment House. The building of the latter was commenced 
in February 5, 1799 and the first brick was laid by 
Timothy Hickey. Its projector, the Marquis of Wellesley, 
may be called the Augustus of Calcutta, — a man fond of 
Oriental pomp, — the ground cost Rs. 80,000, the building 
itself thirteen lakhs, the furniture half a lakh. Previous 
to that period the Governor lived in a small house now 
forming part of the Treasury. His views were, that 
‘Hndia should be governed from a palace, not from a 
counting-house, with the ideas of a prince, not with those 
of a retail-dealer in muslins and indigo’’. While with its 

spacious lawn, in which 120 carriages have been at times 

\ 

drawn up, and the Dutch Governor resided in the beauti- 
ful terraced gardens of Fort Gustavo, in Calcutta there 
was no place to receive visitors in. The Dutch Governor 
of Ghinsura, on his visit to the Governor, in 1769, 
was accommodated in a house belong to a native. 
Opinions differ as to the precise locality of the old 
Government House, some say it was where the Treasury is 
now, and others, at the south-east corner of Government 
Place. Warren Hasting’s town-house was a very small 
one on the site of the present Government House, but 
Mrs. Hastings lived in one in Hastings-street, now occu- 
pied by Messrs. Burn and Co.^^ In the house at the 


li] The following ••count is giron by Grose, Vol. II, P. 249, of th* 
Bufferings in 17S'7 of the then Governor of Bengal and ^is suite. What' 
aoontrast presents to the present regal style of mdkgnifioenoe with, 
which the Governor-General is received 



CALCUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIMB — IT8 LOCALITIBS 


193 


corner of Watcrloo-strect, now occupied by Mef sn. 
Wmscr and Go., General Glavcring lived, while General 
Monson resided in an adjacent house now belonging to 
Mes<)rf). Freer, Smith and Go., near Mango-lane« 

The Treasury included the building first created by 
Sir I: Coote, as a residence, in Council House Street. We 
have heard that the Gouncil was formerly held in the 
house which still stands between Mackenzie’s and Honing’s 
offices, the scene of many stormy discussions between 
Hastings and Francis. 

In Old Post Office Street was the Post Office, in a house 
oppo-^uc to Sir J. Golville’s residence. 

The Toum Hall occupies the site of a house in which 
Justice Hyde lived, and for which he paid Rs. 1,200 rent 
per mensem. In 1792 the Old Gourt House being in a 
ruinous condition, was pulled down by order of Govern- 
ment, and as it was used as a Town Hall, a meeting was 


They •embarked ia a WoUook, or large boa b, on tbe 24th, and ware 
thirteen days in their passage to Muxidabad, whioh is about two 
hundred miles up the river from Calcutta. The provision was onij 
rioo and water; and they had baonbus to lie on; but as their fever 
was come to a crisis, their bodies were covered with bnile, which 
be arne riinuin^ sores, exposed to exoessive heats and violent rains* 
without (vny covering or ucaroe any elothew, the iron on their legs con- 
HUiced the flesh almost to the bone- 

Mr. Holwoll, as a nnsoner of state was eetnnaied and valued to 
liundo Sing Hay.ory, who commanded the guaid, at four lakhs of rupees, 
or £ 50,000 Sterling. 

They arrived at the Frenoh factory on the 7th of July, in the 
mornin z, and were waited on by Mr. T>aw, the French Chief, who 
generously supplied them with clothes, linen, provisions^ liquors, and 
money. About four in the afternoon, they landed at Muxndabad, and 
were confined in an open stable, not far from the sSouah’s palftoa. 
This March drew tears of despair and anguish of heart from them 
thus to be led like felons, a spectacle to the inhabitants of this 
populous city. They had a guard of Moors placed on one side, end 
a guard of Genius on the other. The immense crowd of spectators, 
who came from all quarters of the city to satisfy their curiosity* 
so flooked them up. from morning until night, that they narrowly 
escaped a second eufifooation* the weather being excessively sultry. 

—13 



194 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NUlQHBOU&fiOOD 


held in 1792, at which Sir W. Jones pesided, in order to 
raise subscriptions to erect another Town Hall. Sir W. 
Jones subscribed 500 rupees to the object. 

The Supreme Gourt^* sitting were first held in the Old 
Court House, and as the Old Court House was pulled 
down in 1792, the present building must have been 
created about that time : for particulars respecting the 
early history of the Supreme Court, consult The life of 
Sir E. Impey by his Son, Mrs. Fay gives an anecdote 
which throws light on the state of things in her day : — 

On Mr. Fay*s expressing some apprehensions 
lest having come out without love of the E. I. 
Company, might throw obstacles in the way of his 
admission to the Bar here. Sir E. Impey indignantly 
exclaimed, “No, Sir, had you dropped from the 
clouds with such documents, we would admit you. 
The Supreme Court is independent, and will never 
endure to be dictated to, .by any body of men whose 
claims are not enforced by superior authority. It 
is nothing to us whether you had or had not permi* 
ssion from the Court of Directors, to proceed to 
this settlement ; you came to us as an authenti- 
cated English Barrister, and as such, we shall, on 

13. The Supreme Court calls up many association. Here the 
sentence of Nandkumar was pronounced, here Impey bravely main- 
tained the independence of the power of justice against the E. I. C. 
then supreme over every other power. 

Enormous fortunes were made by its lawyers in early days when the 
Attorn^i^ were limited to twelve in number, to share the spoils 
gathered from fostering the litigious propensities of the natives. *'A 
man of abilities and good dress in this time, if he was the firmness 
to resist the fashionable contagion, gambling, need only pass one 
seven years of his life at Calcutta, to return home in affluent circum- 
stances ; but the very nature of their profession leads them into 
gay connections, and having lor a time complied with the humour of 
their Company prudential motives, they became tained, and prosecute 
their ban from the impulses of inclination**. 

We have an account of a Portuguese who, in 1789, carried on a 
law-suit with an Armenian, which cost him Rupees. 40,000 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 


195 


the first day of the next Term, admit you to our 
Bar.** There exists a strong jealousy between the 
Government and the Supreme Court, lest either 
should encroach on the prerogatives of the other. 
The latter not since committed Mr. Naylor, the 
Gompany^s Attorney, for some breach of privilege, 
who being in a weak state of health at the time, died 
in confinement. 

The Esplanade formed a favourite promenade **of 
elegant walking parties,’’ in moonlight evenings. The 
ifive chief streets of Calcutta abutted on it — to the south 
of it was the maidan covered w'ith paddy field, while the 
course led the ladies down to see an occasional launch at 
Watson’s works. 

Facing Government and Council House, stands Fort 
William, commenced shortly after the battle of Plassey, 
in 1757. The works were planned by an engineer named 
Bayer. It was evidently designed to hold the inhabi- 
tants of Calcutta, in case of another siege, as permission 
was originally given to every inhabitant of *^the settle- 
ment,'’ — the name by which Calcutta was designated 
during last century, — to build a house in fort. But inter- 
lining versus of domestic comfort, different from those 
.held at Bombay, the people did not avail themselves of 
this 'privilege. They preferred the plan of living in garden- 
iiouses. In 1756 the site of it and the plain were occu- 
pied by native huts, the property chiefly of the Mittre 
family, and by salt marshes, which afforded fine sport 
to buffalo hunters. The borings made in the fort, in 
1836-40, under the superintendence of Dr. Strong and 
James Prinsep, have shown that the ocean rolled its waves 
500 feet beneath the surface of the present fort, and in 
1682 an ancient forest existed in that locality. 

During ^hc building of the fort, the great famine of 
1770 occured, which caused great difficulty in obtain- 
ing food for the workmen— a sad time— children died at 
their mother’s breast — the Gauge’s stream became 



196 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


corrupt from the corpses— and even its fish were poisonous 
from feeding on corpses, — 76,000 natives perished in the 
streets of Calcutta, between July 15th and September 
4th, 2,000 Europeans perished in Bengal. Two millions 
of people died in Bengal and some natives in the neigh- 
bourhood of Patna fed on human flesh. 

This fort cost two millions of money, of which five 
lakhs were for pilling, to keep oti' the encroachments of 
the river *, but the Company was cheated in their accounts, 
both by Europeans and natives. The amount may be 
estimated by the fact, that when Holwell, Governor of 
Calcutta, was about to prosecute certain defrauders, some 
party unknown sent a lakh oj rupees his house on the 
eve of the trial, to induce him to drop the prosecution ; 
but he, as an honest man, handed it all over to the 
Company's treasury. Unhappily, in these days, he had 
few imitators, John Company was viewed as a lawful 
subject of spoliation, Dutch and English ran a race in 
making what money they could quoeumque modo. The 
Company designed that only a fort, capable of being 
garrisoned by 1,000 men, should be erected, as if it 
required a much larger garrison they could keep the 
field. Much interesting and curious information respect- 
ing the building of the first may be obtained in the 
Beporta oj the, HoMaa oj Oommona on Indian Affairs for 1770-2. 

It is only in recent years we have had any road 
outside the fort ; the Beapondentia walk extended little 
bclow.«XIhandpal Ghat, the resort of those fond of moon- 
light rambles, and of children with their train of servants, 
—as no horses were allowed to go on it. Of the Strand 
Road we shall state little, as such an ample account has 
been given al it in Calcutta Review^ No. X., Pp. 430-55. 

File Respondentia walk joins on with what is now 
the Siraiui road, the creation of the Lottery Committee 
in 182 ; alo ig with Cornwallis and Amherst streets. The 
Strand toad was formerly a low sedgy bank, and the river 
near it was shalloqf, ^as the deep channel was formerly oa 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLD BN TIME — ITS LOCALITIBS 197 


the Haura (Howrah) side ; but owing to the formation of 
the Sumatra sand (as called from a ship of that name sunk 
there, whose wreck formed the nucleus of a mass of mud) 
“the deep channel has been thrown ‘to the Calcutta 
side, from the projecting angle at Haura Ghat.*’ 

Babuls Ghat, next to it, was named from Raj Chandra 
Mir, who built it. The Bankshall, the hall on the banks 
of river (?) was the site of the first day dock in Calcutta, 
made here by Government, in 1790, but removed in 1808* 
Bankshall seems to have been an old name, given to 
stations for ships or pilots, thus Fulta was called the 
Dutch Bankshall, as their ships, owing to the strong 
currents, sometimes could not ascend the river to 
Chinsura, but anchored there. This gave rise to the Pilot 
Service, which was established in 1669, the men were to 
be furnished from the Indiamcn, to man one pinnace 
Police Ghat is so called from the Police Office having been 
there formerly. The embankment in front of the Ouatom 
House was begun in 1800. Nimtola was named after a 
Nim tree, which protected the weary with its shadow. 
The Strand district is the oldest settled in Calcutta, its 
sedgy shores called Suttanutty, were occupied by Job 
Charnock, in 1689, when he landed from Uluberia ; they 
presented the only cleared spot, as jangal extended from 
Chandpal Ghat all to the south. 

In 1823 the Strand road was formed, which led to a 
great sanitary improvement, but injured the ship-builders, 
who had docks in Clive Street, and were obliged to remove 
to Haura and Sulkea. This road has been widened at 
the Metcalf Hall stands, there were, forty years ago nine 
fathoms of water. 

Olive Street, parallel with the Strand, was once “the 
grand ‘theatre of business, and there stood the Council 
House, and ‘every public mart in it ;* near where the 
Oriental Bank is now, was the residence of Lord Clive. 

Jeaaop*a foundry was established by Mr. Jessop, of the 
buttery Iron Works, in Shropshire. He was sent out ia 



198 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOTJBHOOD 


1820, by the East India Company, to maJee an iron> 
suspension bridee for the King of Lucknow, he remained 
five years in Lucknow, then came to Calcutta and 
commended a foundry. 

The Mint, of modern erection, was built below high 
water mark, two-thirds of it is under ground, cropped up 
an mud and pcles. 

The is of long standing, it was in 1749 one 

of those formed out by Government, along with Sova-^ 
bazar, Samhazar^ Eat Kola^ Jaun-bazar^ Burtalla^ Satanutty 
Hat. 

We come now to Haura^ an the opposite banks, but as 
we wish to confine our remarks to points not generally 
known and not easily accessible to the public, we refer 
our readers for an account of the Botanic Gardens^ Bishop*^ 
OolUgCy Eaura, &c., &c., to an article in Calcutta Review, 
No. VIII Pp 476—484, 

We merely notice that Haura, in 1709, had docks and 
a good garden belonging to the Armenians, that the ground 
to the north-west of the Church is marked off in Upjohn's 
map as practising grounds of the Bengal Artillery. The 
Old Fort of Tanna, built to protect the trade of the river, 
was situated a little to the south of the residence of the 
Superintendent of the Botanical Gardens: mention is 
made of it in 1686, when its garrison endeavoured to 
hinder an English sixty-gun ship from passing down the 
river. In 1783 the Orphan House, now the Magistrate’s 
Kachari at Haura, was erected, of which David Brown 
was the ^st chaplain, but he resigned this lucrative port 
in 1788, and devoted himself to the gratuitous service of 
the Mission Church. 

Sulkea, a densely populated suburb, containmg 73^ 
446 inhabitants, in 1835, formed the terminus of the 
Benares road, which, by its narrowness and roughness, 
reminds up of the difficulties dak travellers must have 
met with in former days. It was a common practice,, 
however, formerly, when travellers were few? for 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME — TTS LOCALITIES 1^0.1 


Englishmen to send to the Zemindars along the road for 
supplies of beares and food : the Zemindars supplied 
them, but quickly imdemnified themselves by debiting it 
to the Expenses of the revenue collection or else marking 
the rayats pay for it. It was not until 1765 that a regular 
dak was established, and that only between Calcutta and 
Murshidabad ; and for a long period after that, travellers 
had no bungalows, but were obliged to send to sets of 
tents on before them. 

Opposite Sulkea, on the left bank of the river, is the 
Nawah of Chitpur^a palace, which was a favourite resort 
of Europeans in the last century. The buildings and 
gardens were magnificent ; and the Nawab Rezah Khan 
lived on intimate terms with the Sahib-lok, inviting them 
to his palace, and presenting a fi:ic object, mounted on 
his splendid elephant and attcnded''by a guard of honour. 
When the foreign Governors came down from Serampur, 
Chandernagore, Ghinsura, they landed at Ghitpur, where 
a deputation received them, and they then rode in state 
up to Government House — the Nawab was a dcscendcnl 
of Jaffir Ali. 

Beyond his palace, in the house now occupied liy 
Mr. Kelsall, and known by the name of Kasipur House, 
lived Sir R. Chamber, noted for his oriental learning. 

South of this is the Ohitpur road, which may be called 
the chcapside of Calcutta, at Lalbazar is its Wapping, 
being thronged constantly with native vehicles. Various 
wealthy native families, who lived in this street formerly, 
have now deserted it on account of its noise and dust* 
It received its name from the goddess Ghitreswari, who 
had a splendid temple here, where human sacrifice were 
formerly offered. Chitpur road is the oldest road in 
Calcutta, forming a continuation of the Dum Dum road, 
which was the old line of communication between 
Murshidabad and Kali Ghat. 

Mutsyea Bazar was formed for the sale of fish, in last 
century : the native merchants lived on the river banks, 



200 


OALOT7TTA AND ITS NBIGHBOUBHOOD 


while behind them were the seats of trade, '^he ground 
here is the lowest in Calcutta, and only eight feet above 
the sea level. 

The Bara-bazar is mentioned in 1757. A native fVif nd 
has communicated to us some anecdotes of nativep^ whr 
resided in this and the neighbouring a century ago : w^ 
give them : — 

The oldest inhabitant of Calcutta, ofanyno^f. 
was Baishnavcharan Set, who lived at Bara-biiz^r 
about a hundred years ago, and was reckoned one 
of richest and most honest merchants of his tin e 
As an instance of his honesty, it is said that Ranoaja 
prince of Telengana, would use no Ganges water n r 
his religious services, unless consigned to him under 
his seal. Once the Set bought a quantity ui zir c 
in the name of his parter, Gauri Sen, which after- 
wards turned out to contain a large admixtur e ol 
silver. He attributed the transmutation of the metal 
to the good fortune of his partner, and, accordingly, 
made over the whole profit of the bargain to him, 
unwilling to share the good fortune of another. 
Gauri Sen became very rich from his wind fall, 
used to spend large sums of money in liberating 
prisoners who happened to be confined for debts, 
and pay fines for such poor people as happened to 
fighter quarrel for a good cause, and were punished 
by fines : hence the adage, 

Of this Set is also said, that once he contracted 
to bffy 10,000 maunds of sugar from a merchant of 
Burdwan, a tambuU or pan-dealer by caste, named 
Gobardhan Rakshit. When the sugar arrived at 
Kadamtola Ghat, at Bara-bazar, the people of the 
Set, in order to extort money from the consigner, 
reported to their master that the goods were not 
equal to muster. This, in due course, \^as communi- 
cated to the consigner, and he was requested to 
make a proportional deduction in the price. The 



OALOUTTA IN THE OLD BN TIMB — ITS LOCALITIES 201 

Rakshit, rather than abate in his price, and sub- 
mit to the stigma of attemption to deal unfairly, 
ordered the whole cargo to be thrown into the 
river. When this intention was carried out in 
part, the Set interposed, and offered to take the 
remainder, paying for the whole invoice. Gobar- 
dhana, not to be out-done by the Set^s honesty, 
would only take for what remained at the invoice 
rate, and the bargain was settled accordingly. 

Of four individuals named in the above stanza, 
all contemporary, of the middle of the last century, 
Banamali Sircar, the party noted for his fine house, 
was a Sudgopa by caste, and used to serve as a 
banian to European merchants. The ruins of his 
house still exit near Bag-bazar. His son Radha- 
Krishna Sircar held a high position in Hindu 
Society, and Raja Navakrishna, even in his better 
days, is said to have paid him court. 

Gobindaram Mittra was a zemindcr, and had 
held large farms from the Nawabs of Mtirshidabad.^* 
He was notorious for his devotion^ to club-law, 
and his lattice was an object of universal dread. 
A temple ( the oldest in Calcutta ) and a Navaratna 
on the Ghitpur road still exist. 

Huzurimall was a Sikh merchant ; he lived at 
Bara-bazar, in a very large house, had a large estab- 
lishment of clerks, and sixteen sets of singers and 
musicians to sing the praise of Akal. A lane 
near Baitakhana is still known by his name. 

14' He wafl “the black banian'* of the Mayor’s Court for twenty- 
five yeftts, and amassed an immense fortune. 



202 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


Dewan Kashinath was a parvenu. His^widowed' 
mother used to serve a Mohammadan Fakir named? 
Shah Jummah, who lived in a reed bush on the bank 
of the river near Bara-bazar. On the death of the 
Fakir, Kashinath came to some fortune ( it is said ), 
through the blessing of the saint, and, subsequently, 
much improved it by his connection with the Raja of 
Kashijora, to whom he was introduced by Baisbnava- 
charan Set. 

The Faujdari Balakhana formerly the town-house of the 
Faujdar, or Governor of Hugli ; under the Mussalmans^ 
he was an important personage, and one of the chief 
officers in Bengal. 

We come next to an ancient quarters of Calcutta, 
the part occupied by the Armenians, Portuguese, Jews, 
and Greeks. The appearance of the houses tells their own 
tale, and remind us of the compact buildings in the 
garrison towns of the continent. 

The Armenians are among the oldest residents and 
their quarter attracts by its antique air contrasted with 
conspicuous modern buildings in Calcutta. The Armeni- 
ans, like the Jews, were famous for their mercantile zeal, 
and in early days, were much employed by the English 
as Oomastahs — they are to be commended for their always^ 
having retained the oriental dress — they have never had 
much social intercourse with the English. They had a 
Church here as early as 1724, the present St. Nazareth ; 
previous to that they had a small chapel in China-bazar, 
and their burying ground was on the site of the present 
church, while the East India Company made a regulation 
that, in whatever part of India the Armenians should 
amount to forty, the East India Company would built 
a church for them^ and pay the minister’s salary for seven 
years. The Armenians had settled in this quarter as early 
as the days of Job Charnock. 

The Portuguese quarter of Murgi Bata, or the fowl 
market, is equally interesting : we have given an account of 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIMF— ^TS LOCALITIES 203 


it in an article in Calcutta Review, Noi X. “The Portuguese 
in North of India,” we therefore need not repeat with 
is stated there. As the Portuguese were such ancient and 
influential inhabitants of Calcutta, we make a few generah 
remarks respecting them. 

It presents a singular contrast lo present time when 
4,000 natives are receiving an English education in 
Calcutta, that in the middle of last century, the Portu- 
guese language was a common medium of intercourse. 
The Portuguese had, for two centuries previously, carried 
on a flourishing trade, and many of them were employed 
to topazzas, table servants and slaves ( last century the 
generality of Europeans in Calcutta kept slave-boys tO‘ 
wait at table.) On this subject we extract from a Calcutta 
paper of 1781 the following advertisement ; — 

“TO BE SOLD BY PRIVATE SALE : 

Two Coffree boys, who play remarkably well on the 
French Horn, about eighteen years of age : belonging to 
a Portuguese Paddrie lately deceased. For particulars, 
enquire of the Vicar of the Portuguese Church.’^ 

Mrs. Kindcrsley, in her letter, states, that the Dutch 
at the Cape imported slave from the East Indies which 
were easily procurable, as it was a practice of the Portu- 
guese, in their early navigation in the East, to land on the 
coast, rob and plunder the defenceless inhabitants, and 
then carry them away as slaves, which they reconciled to* 
their consciences, by making Christians of them, in giving 
them a black hat, trousers, coat and stocking, an European 
name, teaching them to repeat so many Pater Noters and 
Avc Marias. Those Natives who apostatised, were burnt 
at Goa. Slaves were regularly purchased and registered 
in the Kacheri, and in 1752, we find each slave paid a 
duty of four rupees four annas to the East India Company, 
while at that period, the Charge for a marriage license 
was only three rupees. Hamilton, in 1702, speaks of a 
place twelve leaques above Sagar, “Commonly known by 



204 


OALOUTTA AND IT3 NBiaHBOUDHOOD 


the name of Rague’s river, which had that appellation 
from some banditti Portuguese, who betook tlicmsclvcs 
to prey among the islands at the mouth of the Ganges, 
and committed depredations on those that traded in the 
river of Hugli.” In other points morals were not better, 
the same writer states : ^*The Bandel deals is no sort 
of commodities, ^but what are in request at the Court 
Venus/' 

The Portuguese came in 1530, into this country, as 
mercenaries in the service of the King of Gour, and acted 
as a kind of pretoriam guards to the native Rajahs ; at 
the period the chief cmporia from the Cape to China, an 
extent of 12,000 miles of sea coast, were in their position, 
— in all this in short space of fifteen years under 
Albuquerque. 

VVe must allow the Portuguese full credit for a sincere 
desire to propagate their faith. '^Wherever the Portuguese 
prevailed or gained a settlement, one of their first points 
was to stock the place with the missionaries,*’ but, like 
the French missionaries in North America, they were 
in various cases, the panderers to ambition, so that the 
English at Bombay would not allow Portuguese mission* 
aries to settle there, though they permitted French, 
German or Italian ones. 

Hamilton writes in 1708, respecting their language : 
‘‘Portuguese is the language most Europeans learn to 
qualify themselves for general converse with one another, 
as well as with the different inhabitants of India/’ How 
fallen now ! There are, perhaps, not three Europeans 
now in Bengal, well acquainted with it, and even few 
of the so-called Portuguese can read it intelligently. The 
Portuguese language has now fallen through India. In 
1823 it was complained of in Calcutta that “the priests 
preached in high Portuguese, while the people only 
understood the language of ayahs” Even tjT^ces of it now 
are left, except in such words as caste, compound, jangal, 
and a few others. The Portuguese conquests, by the 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDfiK TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 205 


temporal advantages conferred on convert, spread the 
system, but chiefly among the lower classes, who became 
their servants and soldiers. The epithet ‘‘Riece Christians” 
applied to Native Christians, was handed down from the 
Portuguese, who called such persons Christians de Arroz. 
But what could have been expected from converts, when 
their teachers were a set of ignorant men, taken out of 
common sailors and soldiers, who could scarcely read ? 
No wonder that such men professed to show at Goa, 
the model of a ship which sailed in one night from the 
Cape of Good Hope to Goa, *‘the devil holding the helm, 
and the Virgin Mary acting as quarter-master.” At Goa 
was everywhere to be met the image of the Virgin, 
described as ‘'a woman gorgeously dressed like a courtesan, 
with a friz bob wig, with a crown on it, and a large 
hoop petticoat reaching down to her feet, tied round the 
neck instead of the waist, and a child on her arms”. 
These priests were famous legacy hunters, and thoroughly 
profligate, as the people were completely subject to 
their will. 

The name Portuguese, in the last century, was a 
bye-word of reproach, the name Portuguese ayah was 
synonimous with /emms ds plai$ir, while the men who 
boasted to be countrymen of Abuquerque and the De- 
Casts, became petty keranis or cooks — what fall for, 
persons, whose ancestors, as early as 1563, used to send 
thirty ships annually from Bengal to Malabar Coast, 
laden with pepper, sugar, cloth and oil. 

With all their faults, the Portuguese, in the point, 
set an example to the English, they made India their 
home, — the word so correct among the English last 
century of **thc Exiles” they sworned, they could not have 
called Calcutta a settlement, but a city. 

This native part of the town, cast of the Chitpur road, 
is comparatively modern ; though we find the names of 
MLirzapur and Simla mentioned in 1742, yet, down to 
the ^ijlll^encement of this century, their site was occupied 



206 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


chiefly by paddy fields, with stagnant tanks sending out 
their malaria, while at night no native would venture 
out with any good clothes on him — there was just dread 
of robbery and murder. Of Simla it was stated in 1826, 
^‘no native for love or money could be got to go his way 
after sunset/’ The site of Cornwallis Square and of the 
Circular Canal was long noted for the murders committed 
there. Soba Bazar is a building of last century, and reminds 
us of Naba Krishen and the days of Clive. 

Near the Circular Road when the Marquis of Wellesley, 
whose influence gave a great stimulus to the improve- 
ment of the roads, came to Calcutta, was ‘^the deep, 
broad Mahratta ditch,” which chiefly filled up by 
depositing the filth of the town in it. “The earth ex- 
cavated in forming the ditch, was so disposed on the 
inner or townward side, as to form a tolerably high road, 
along the margin of which was planted a row of trees, 
this constituted the most frequented and fashionable part 
about the town.” An old witness states; ‘‘Now (1802) 
on the Circular road of Calcutta, the young, the sprightly 
and the oppulent, during the fragrance of morning, in 
the chariot of health, enjoy the gales of recreation.” 
In 1794 there were three houses, in its length of three 
miles. The ditch was dug in 1742 to protect English 
territories, then seven miles in circumference, the in- 
habitants being terrified at the invasions of those modern 
Vandalis, the Mahrattas, who, the year previous, invaded 
Bengal to demand the Chauth or fourth part of the 
revenues iJthey were fierce invaders, called by Aurangzeb 
“mountain rat but it is to be remembered they were 
Hindus, who claimed, by treaty, a share in the revenues 
of the country ! The Moguls broke their promise, and 
the Mahrattas had to collect by main force. But the 
Mahrattas, in 1742, were not a more atrocious than 
were the Orangemen and Romanists in Ireland towards 
.each other in 1798. The Mahratta poweY was a pure 
Hindu revulsion against the Musalman, and rose rapidly 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDBN TIMB— ITS LOOALITIBS 


207 


•on the decline of the latter^ extending its sway from 
JSurat to the confines of Calcutta, and from Agra to the 
Kistna, collecting a revenue of seventeen crores, and 
numburing 300,000 cavalry, all under the guidance of 
brahmans. Like the French national guard, they were 
soldiers and peasants, and noted for the keen sword 
blades wielded ; they used to say English swords were 
only fit for cutting butter. Owing to the defeat of 
200,000 Mahrattas at Pauipat, 150,000 Musalmans of 
Bengal became free from any apprehensions of invasion. 
The Mahratta ditch commenced at Ghitpur bridge, but was 
not completed, as the panic subsided. By the treaty of 
1757 with MirJaffirAli, the latter agreed to give up to 
the English "^thc Mahratta ditch all round Calcutta, 
and 600 yards all round about the ditch ; the lands to 
the southward of Calcutta as low as Gulpi, should be 
under the Government of the English Company.” The 
country on the other side of the ditch was, at the time, 
infested with bands of dakaits, but there was a high 
road which ran along side the ditch, probably made from 
the excavation in 1742. 

Omickand Garden, now Halsi bagan, was the head- 
quarters of Suraj Daula, and a military post fortified 
with cannon, in 1757. Here, at the Durbar, Messrs. 
Watts and Scraflon saw there was no prospect of making 
peace with the Nabab, and that the sword was the 
MiUma ratio. The garden was so called from Omichand, 
the Rothschild of his day, a merchant of Patna, who 
possessed great infiuence over Ali Verdi Khan ; he gained 
much money by usurious practices with the troops. The 
names of Omichand and Manikchand occur, who, as 
Hindus, held high appointments under the Musalman 
dynasty, but Gladwin, in his history, gives us the 
key to this policy. Omichand was the great millionaire 
of his day who, by his influence, could sway the 
political movements of the court of Murshidabad. 
During forty years he was the chief contractor for 



208 


OALOUTTA AND ITS NBIOHBOtTBHOOD 


providing the Company’s investments, and realized more 
than a crore of rupees. He lived in this place with 
more than royal magnificence, most of the best houses 
in Calcutta belonged to him, hence, merchant like he 
was an enemy to war. Omichand stipulated with the 
English to obtain thirty lakhs for betraying Suraj Daula, 
but on finding he was deceived by a fictitious treaty, he 
lost his reason. 

The ground to the east of Omichand’s garden was 
the scene of hard fighting, when, in 1757, the English 
troops marched in a fog through Suraj Daula’s camp, 
to the East of Halsi bagan, and marched down the 
Baitakhana. In the skirmishing which took place, the 
English lost more men than they did at Plassey. 

Baitakhana eirtet^ now the Bow-bazar, received its name 
from the famous old tree that stood here and formed 
a Baitakhana or resting place for the merchants who 
traded to Calcutta, and whose caravans rested under its 
shade. Owing to the dread of the Mahrattas, who plun- 
dered in the districts west of the Hugh, the Eastern 
side, as being protected by the river, was selected for 
their route of trade from the North-west, Job Charnock 
is said to have chosen the site of Calcutta for a city, in 
consequence of the pleasure he found in sitting and 
smoking under the shade of a large tree. This tree was,, 
probably, the Baitakhana tree, ^'here the merchants met 
to depart in bodies from Calcutta, to protect each other 
from robber in the neighbouring jungle, and here they 
dispersedt***whcn they arrived Calcutta, with merchandise, 
for the factory.” This tree is marked on Upjohn’s map 
of 1794. Baitakhana was called in 1757, the Avenue 
leading to the eastward, the greater part was then sur- 
rounded by jungle. A rath of Jagannath, seventy feet 
high, formerly stood here, and a thana was located under 
the shade of big tree. 

Opposite Baitakhana, in the south corner of Sealda, 
is the site of the House which farmed the Jockey Club- 



OALOUTTA IN THB OLDEN TIME — ITS LOCALITIES 209 

and refreshment place of the Calcutta sportsmen, when, 
in former days, they went tiger and boar hunting in 
thf neighbourhood of Dum Dum. Let our readers remem- 
ber that last century there were no pakka building in 
Dum-Dum, the artillery merely went there in the cold 
weather from the fort. An anecdote is related of an 
officer named Tiger Duff, noted for his athletic Highland 
form. During, some seventy years ago, at the bungalow 
mess-room in Dum-Dum, he found his servants retiring 
quickly from the room, when rising up to see what was 
the matter, he came in collision with a huge Bengal 
tiger, who had made his appearance within the compound. 
He had presence of mind to thrust the arm of his 
right hand into the tiger’s throat, and seize hold of 
the root of his tongue, the enraged beast twisted and 
lacerated the other hand, but still he held his grip unt^l 
he had seized a knife, and with his left hand cut his 
throat, when the animal fell in the agonies of death on 
the floor. 

The house next Baitakhana is occupied by Mr. Blac^ 
guUrt, the oldest resident in Calcutta, now in his ninety^ 
second year, seventy-eight of which have been passed in 
Calcutta, where he arrived a fortnight after the execution 
of Nandkumar. He has seen the maidan a rice field. 

is mentioned in 1757 as a ^'narrow Causeway, 
raised several feet above the level of the country, with 
a ditch on each side, leading from the East.** It was 
the scene of hard fighting in 1757, when there were thirty- 
nine English and eighteen sipahis killed, eighty-two 
English and thirty-five sipahis wounded. The Engliah 
guns had to be dragged through Sealdah, then rice fields. 
At Baitakhana was a Musalman battery commanding the 
ditch, which inflicted great slaughter on the English. 

To the North-West of Baitakhana is the Portugutst burial 
ground^ the fifth of Mr. Joseph Baretto, one of the Portu- 
guese ‘^merchant princes** of Calcutta, who purchased it 
in 1785 for 8,000 rupees, 

-U 



210 


CALCUTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


The Baitakhana Church was founded in 1109, by a Mrs. 
Shaw. 

The Old Madresaa, founded by Warren Hastings in 1781, 
in the first instance at his own expense, still remains ; 
the collegiate establishment was removed to Wellesley 
Square in 1824 ; the buildings have been improved, — 
but not the Musalmans ; now, as then, ‘‘they despise the 
sciences and hold trade in contempt/" 

Of the Calcutta Musalmans of last century little can 
be said ; they were fierce and haughty, and paraded the 
streets with daggers in their gridles. On the decline of 
Murshidabad the best families went to the North-West ; 
the commercial influence of Calcutta not being liked by 
men whose ascendancy lay in the sword. In fact, Bengal 
was never thoroughly incorporated into their empire, 
and all their conquests in the south were slow ; thus the 
Carnatic was not entirely reduced under their sway until 
1650. They were never very zealous here in propagating 
their religion, and the case of Jafir Khan, who pulled 
down all the Hindu temples within four days’ journey of 
Murshidabad, in order to build his own Mausoleum, 
and a mosque with the materials, stands as a solitary 
case. They were severe collectors of the revenue how- 
ever. Murshid Kuli Khan used to oblige defaulting 
zeminders to wear leather long drawers, filled with 
live cats — to drink buffalo’s milk mixed with salt, till 
they were brought to death’s door by diarrhoea. With 
all this jgruelty, the Musalmans gave speedy decisions, 
which were preferable to the tardy, and therefore almost 
useless decisions of our existing courts. The Chora or whip, 
and Bipaha or triangle of bamboo, with a rope suspended 
for tieiug up the culprit, were formerly common in their 
Kacharis. The zeminder presided, and Europeans have 
been known to send their servants with a chit to the 
zeminder, politely requesting him to flog them ! 

leads to the Circular Canal ; Circular Canal 
branches off from the Circular-road, the north part of 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDEN TIME - ITS LOCALITIES 211 


it was once the Maharatta ditch, through which a stream 
ran ; it was begun in 1824 and finished in 1834, at a cost 
of 1,443,470 lupccs but its increasing trade soon brought 
in a large profit ; in three years 23,109 boats passed 
through it. 

On its site Suraj Daula’s army was encamped in 1757, 
the part near Chitpur bridge is on the site of the old 
Maharatta ditch, which formed here a strong defence of 
Calcutta, against Suraj Daula’s army. 

Though, for sometimes, this canal was the cause of 
unhealthiness, it has contributed very much to the clear- 
ing of country. Baliaghaty now the scene of such a busy 
trade, was seventy years ago called the ‘‘Baliaghat passage 
through the wood.” A branch of the canal a mile long 
called the Entally Canal, excavated in 1809, serving as 
a large mud trap, contains 722,065 cubic feet. 

The Circular Canal begins at Chitpur, a little beyond 
is the village of Baranagar, i. e. Barahanagar^ or the place 
of boars, once abundant there ; it was formerly a Dutch 
settlement, and the halfway station between Fulta and 
Chinsura. Stavorinus writes of it as having a house for 
the temporary accommodation of such of their servants 
as land here in going up or down the river. 

The Salt-water lake seems, former days, to have been 
deeper and wider than now, running probably close to 
the Circular Road. Holwell states, that in this time, 
about 1740, the lake overflowed in the rains, an occur- 
ence which seldom takes place of late years. As late as 
1791, Tarda was on the borders of the lake, but the lake 
is now at a considerable distance ; its greatest depth does 
not exceed feet, and it seems to be gradually silting 
up ; charred and peaty earth, found twenty feet below 
the surface, indicates that here, as in Dum-Dum, Were 
the remains of an ancient forest, and that it was the 
resort of wild buffaloes. These marshy land arc not 
now wholly useless, as they yield to the zemindara, by 
the fisheries, and reeds, a profit of 16,000 rupees annually. 



212 


OALO0TTA AND ITS NBiaHBOUBHOOD 


It is about three feet lower in level than the banks of 
the river. Dr. Stewart, in his interesting ^‘Notes on 
Calcutta/’ written in 1836, states that : Not more than 
forty years ago, the salt-lake was much nearer to Calcutta 
than at present. 

On a road leading from the Circular-road to the lake 
is the Chinese burial ground^ on another road the ParsVs 
and on a third the Jew*s the latter teems with Hebrew 
inscriptions. 

The Circular Road might have been justly called 
the Valley of Hinnom, in former days, as it was lined to 
the north in various places with burial grounds, which 
were then **some miles from the town,” though now situ- 
ated in populous neighbourhoods, but “the temple of 
the divinity was not made a charnel house.” 

The Mission burial ground^ called Kiernander’s was 
originally made by that eminent missionary and opened 
in August 25, 1767, on the old burial ground near Tank 
Square being ploughed up and its monuments levelled. 
Few names of note occur here. Few call up historic 
associations, as Ghajipur does of Cornwallis or Tanjore 
of Swartz, or Goa of St Xavier. The name of Jones 
almost stand out alone, maynum et vensrabile nomen ; his 
monument has been repaired at the expense of the 
Asiatic Society. The ground yielded large profit, 500 
rupees last century being charged for opening graves 
for the respectable classes, — days when undertakers fatten- 
ed on the spoils of death. The small square on the 


15. Among tho most flouriihiDg trudo*, that of ad Undirtahr WM 
tho foromoii. At Utt at thirty ytart ago, an undertaker about to tail 
far Borope, dtmandad 20,000 rupeet for the goodwill of hie butinott 
for tha month of Auguat and September,— memorable monthi in Old 
OeloattOf when at fate at Hatting't adminiatration> thoie who turvivtd 
them uted to eongratulat# eaoh other on having a new lease of life ; 
and mi ah earlier period, the 16tb ' of November wagi an equally 
memorable day, when the turvivort met to rejoioe in their delfveranoe 
frott degth* 



OALOUTTA IN TBB OLDEN TIME-— ITS LOCALITIES 


213 


opposite side was opened in 1773 for interring Kicrnan- 
dcr's wife, the square to the east was opened in 1796 ; 
the monuments chiefly record the names these *‘born 
just to bloom and fade.” There is, however, the monu* 
ment of Colonel Stewart, disfigured by the emblem of 
Hindu idolatry, which in life he so warmly cherished. 
Few tombs of the old times occur, though Park-street 
burial groud is the Pere Le Ohaiat of Calcutta ; there arc, 
however, the tombs of General Clavering, the great 
opponent of Hastings, of W. Ohambera, the first person 
in Bengal who translated any portion of the Bible, and 
of Oleverland, the benefactor of the Rajmahal Hill tribes. 

burial ground was opened in 1796, taking its 
name from the same Monsieur Tiretta who established 
the bazar already spoken of. 

The French Burial Ground contains few monuments of 
any antiquity, though the French seemed at one time in 
a fair way to have contested for the prize of Bengal with 
the English, — when Colonel Clive took Ghandernagore 
in 1757, Their fort mounted 183 pieces of cannons, 
many of large calibre, and they had previously a greater 
number of European troops than the English,— but 
England was the **Occan Queen.'’ 

The Muhammadans have burial grounds along the 
road : Narikeldanga, Gobra, Kasiabagan, Tangra and 
Karbela, 

Respecting the native part of Calcutta, little is to be 
gleaned. We find in Holwell's account, that in 1752, 
the names of the following places are mentioned Patrea 
Ghat, Soba-bazar, Bag-bazar, Hatkhola, Simla district, 
Mirzapur district, Hogulkurea district, Doubapara, Jaun 
Nayore, Baniapuker, Tangra and Dollond. 

We have thus taken a glance at the chief points of 
interest in the different streets,— but the Europeah popu- 
lation change here so rapidly, that the events of the past 
soon become buried in oblivion, and this was particularly 
the oa$e before the newspaper press sprang up, whith 



214 


OALODTTA AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD 


is such a mirror of the events of the day. Few of the 
streets bear any marks of antiquity, and the Englfsh, like 
the Americans, lane had the bad taste to give them 
European names, instead of euphonious expression drawn 
from native associations, yet there is not a single street 
which perpetuates the name of the founder of Calcutta, 
Mr. Gharnock. The natives have not been so neglectful, 
as Barrackpur still retains the soubriquet of Charnock. 
Of the native ones some are called after things which 
were sold on the site of the existing streets, as Suriparah 
( wine sold ) ; Harikatta ( bones for combs ) ; Kulutala 
( oil ) ; Chuturpara ( carpenters ) ; Chunam ( lime ) ; 
Molunga ( salt ); Aharitola ( curds ) ; Kumartala ( pott- 
ers' lane ). 

The names of old native proprietors are recalled by 
Hidaram Banerjea Guli, Bihma Banerji Guli ( Bihma was 
noted for inviting large parties of natives, and giving 
them scanty fare.); Jay Narayan Pakrasi Ouli^ (J^Y 
Narayan is said to have had a compact for building a 
part of the fort, having received several lakhs in advance, 
he fled) ; Tulai Bam Ohoae Quli^ ( Tulsi Ram gained much 
money as a ship banyan ). 

Louden Street recalls the name of the Countess of 
Louden, in whose time it was built. Ruaaell Street was 
called after Sir H. Russell, Chief Justice, who built the first 
house there, n )w occupied as a boarding establishment. 
Middleton Street was named after its first resident a 
civilian : it was formerly a part of Sir E. Impey’s park. 
Grant's lariS^ in Cossitolla, so called from the late Charles 
Grant, father of Lord Genelg, who resided in the first 
house on the right hand side as you enter from Cossitala. 
He came out to India, poor and penniless, but by the 
force of integrity and religious principle, he rose after- 
wards to be chairman of the Court of Directors. What a 
contr^t his original position was, — that of ai^‘*interlopcr^* 
or private trader, — a class to which the Court was so 
hostile, th^t in 1682 they sent out orders that none of 



CALCUTTA IN THE OLDBN TIME— ITS LOCALITIES 


215 


their servants should intermarry with them. Clive Street^ 
so called from Lord Clive, he lived where the Oriental 
Bank is now located. 

The Musalmans have given few names to places, those 
chiefly from ptrs such as Maniktala^ which was called 
a Musalman pir or saint, named Manik. 

The Portuguese had Baretto Street ( the name Baretto 
occurs, as that of a Viccr )y in India, in 1558 ). Joseph 
Baretto was a Portuguese merchant, who came from 
Bombay and settled in Calcutta as a merchant, and was 
a man of the same generous stamp as Palmer.